Archive digitization

Aviation and Diplomacy

Frank Piasecki

NATO 1949-2009 Projekt ekspozycji w Muzeum Lotnictwa Polskiego w Krakowie

Polish Aviation Museum

31-864 Kraków,
al. Jana Pawła II 39
phone: (12) 640 99 60,
(12) 642 40 70

a cultural institution of the Malopolska Region

Małopolska – Kraków Region


Kraków Airport

Aeroplane: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23MF (NATO: Flogger-B)

Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23MF (NATO: Flogger-B)

  • Technical data

Span (maximum wing sweep) 7.78 m
Length 17.18 m
Take-off weight 15,400 kg
Maximum speed 2500 km/h
Ceiling 17500 m
Range 1600 km
Armament see text
Powerplant :
R-29-300 rated at 12,500 kG thrust


The changes appearing in the opinions concerning the further development of military aviation, led to search for a new frontal fighter in the Soviet Union in the 1960's, supplementing and later replacing the MiG-21. From the new construction, a high supersonic speed (Mach 2 - 2.5), high climbing speed, armament consisting of mid-range air-to-air missiles with an appropriate guidance system, the capability of detecting and attacking low and mid altitude air targets and the capability of operating from the low class (field) runways with limited take off length were expected. The development of technology fulfilled the majority of these conditions. The most difficult problem to solve was the short take off and landing distance. Aircraft development went in the opposite way. High speed was achieved through aerodynamic solutions, worsening take off and landing capabilities, caused by the extending of runways.
At the 155 Mikoyan and Guryevich Experimental and Construction Bureau, the newly designed fighter was named the MiG-23.
The two prototypes produced, differed with technical solutions aimed at shortening take off and landing. The first (23-01), aircraft to shorten take off and landing runs, had two additional engines, placed almost vertically in the middle part of the fuselage, very close to the centre of gravity. This solution, however took a lot of space in the fuselage, limiting fuel load, equipment and armament. Further work had no perspective and the design was put away in 1967.
The second prototype, called the "23-11" was equipped with variable wing geometry and became an object of the long running technical problem trials.
The Mikoyan and Guryevich construction bureau worked on that wing configuration since the 1960?s and later on the Central Aero and Hydrodynamic Institute in Moscow, joined the project.
In 1965, the program accelerated and by the break of February and March 1966, the initial design was concluded.
On 9th June 1967, the "23-11" flew for the first time. During the second flight, the changing of the wing geometry was applied. Using such a type of wing made possible the creation of a multi role aircraft: frontal fighter, interceptor and bomber. To speed up the program, nine prototypes were built. In May 1969, the first serial MiG-23S, powered with the R-27-300, was flown. The work on the RP-23 "Sapfir" radar gun-sight was prolonged, so temporarily the simpler RP-22 was used. It didn't allow for full use of armament and the aircraft's capabilities were comparable with those of the MiG-21. During service of the first serially produced MiG-23S, the number of technical problems increased rapidly. Unfortunately, it was the effect of the test accelerated mode and the large complexity of the new systems. The application of the significant changes in steel part technology and construction became necessary. Manoeuvrability had to be improved as well. A successful idea was the simple design of the undercarriage.
On the way to the next significantly improved version, the "MiG-23" model 1971, was produced. It featured an impoverished wings high-lift device.
In 1973, at long last, the MiG-23SM appeared. It was equipped with the R-29 engine, the movable parts of the wing had enlarged areas and were equipped with full high-lift devices (the MiG-23 slats were replaced with leading edge flaps) and the vertical stabiliser was moved back. The detection and aiming systems were improved and now consisted of the RP-23 "Sapfir 23" radar gun-sight and the TP-23 heat seeker. Armament included the GSz-23Ł cannon and the short range R-3S, R-3R, R-13M and later, the R-60 guided missile and could also include the R-23T air-to-air guided missiles. Additional armament consisted of the air-to-air Ch-23, and Ch-66 guided missiles, bomb loads of up to 2000kg and unguided missiles. An effective use of Mig-23 bombing armament was very difficult, due to the lack of an appropriate bomb sight.
In 1973, the first export MiG-23MS version, with simplified equipment and armament, similar to that of the MiG-23S, was developed. The second export derivative, the MiG-23MF, introduced into production in 1977, not much differed from the basic MiG-23M. It was intended for Warsaw Pact members.
For swift pilot training, a two seat derivative of the aircraft became necessary and its design had s already started in 1967. The prototype was flown in 1969. The construction required major changes, comparable with those applied to the MiG-23M. The school version went into serial production in 1972 as the MiG-23UB.
The new MiG-23ML fighter had a lower take off mass. It entered production in 1976 and was exported until 1981. The special MiG-23P interceptor derivative was also developed.
Aimed at further manoeuvrability improvements, at the beginning of the 1980's, the new Mig-23MLD version, being the MiG-23ML modification, appeared from conversions during overhauls. The MiG-23 improvement efforts in the 1990's didn't find financial resources.
36 MiG-23MF's were bought for the Polish Air Force and were delivered in 1979, 1981 and 1982. Six MiG-23UBs were bought, parallel to the MiG-23MFs. Both versions were withdrawn from service in 1999.


Dofinansowano ze środków Ministra Kultury i Dziedzictwa Narodowego
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