Modification of Mig -23


 

  • Ye-231 ("Flogger-A") was the prototype built for testing, and it lacked the sawtooth leading edge that later appeared on all MiG-23/-27 models. This experimental model was the common basic design that both the MiG-23/-27 and Sukhoi Su-24 were based on, but the Su-24 experienced much greater modification.
     
  • MiG-23 ("Flogger-A") was the pre-production model that lacked the hardpoints on later production versions, but the sawtooth leading edge appeared on this model, and it was also armed with guns. This model marked the divergence of the MiG-23/-27 and Su-24 from their common ancestor.

  • MiG-23S ("Flogger-A") was the initial production variant. Only around 60 were built between 1969 and 1970. These aircraft were used for both flight and operational testing. The MiG-23S had an improved R-27F2-300 turbojet engine with a maximum thrust of 9980 kp. As the Sapfir-23 radar was delayed, the aircraft were installed with the S-21 weapons control system with the RP-22SM radar—basically the same weapons system as in the MiG-21MF/bis. A twin-barreled 23 mm GSh-23L gun with 200 rounds of ammunition was fitted under the fuselage. This variant suffered from various teething problems and was never fielded as an operational fighter.
     
  • MiG-23SM ("Flogger-A") was the second pre-production variant, which was also known as the MiG-23 Type 1971. It was considerably modified compared to the MiG-23S: it had the full S-23 weapons suite, featuring a Sapfir-23L radar coupled with Vympel R-23R (NATO: AA-7 "Apex") BVR missiles. It also had a further improved R-27F2M-300 (later redesignated Khatchaturov R-29-300) engine with a maximum thrust of 12,000 kp. The modified "type 2" wing had an increased wing area and a larger sawtooth leading edge. The slats were deleted and wing sweep was increased by 2.5 degrees; wing positions were changed to 18.5, 47.5 and 74.5 degrees, respectively. The tail fin was moved further aft, and an extra fuel tank was added to the rear fuselage, as in the two-seat variant (see below). Around 80 examples were manufactured. The overall reliability was increased over the previous variant, but the "Sapfir" radar still proved to be immature.
     
  • MiG-23M ("Flogger-B") This variant first flew on June 1972. It was the first truly mass-produced version of the MiG-23, and the first VVS fighter to feature look-down/shoot-down capabilities (although this capability was initially very limited). The wing was modified again and now featured leading-edge slats. The Tumansky R-29 (R-29A) engine was now rated for 12,500 kp. It finally had the definitive sensor suite: an improved Sapfir-23D (NATO: 'High Lark') radar, a TP-23 infra-red search and track (IRST) sensor and an ASP-23D gunsight. The "High Lark" radar had a detection range of some 45 km against a high-flying, fighter-sized target. It was not a true Doppler radar but instead utilized the less effective "envelope detection" technique, similar to some radars on Western fighters of the 1960s.
     
  • MiG-23MF ("Flogger-B") This was an export derivative of the MiG-23M originally intended to be exported to Warsaw Pact countries, but it was also sold to many other allies and clients, as most export customers were dissatisfied with the rather primitive MiG-23MS. It actually came in two versions. The first one was sold to Warsaw Pact allies, and it was essentially identical to Soviet MiG-23M, with small changes in "identify friend or foe" (IFF) transponders and communications equipment. The second variant was sold outside Eastern Europe and it had a different IFF and communications suite (usually with the datalink removed), and downgraded radar, which lacked the electronic counter-countermeasure (ECCM) features and modes of the baseline "High Lark". This variant was more popular abroad than the MiG-23MS and considerable numbers were exported, especially to the Middle East.
     
  • The infrared system had a detection range of around 30 km against high-flying bombers, but less for fighter-sized targets. The aircraft was also equipped with a Lasur-SMA datalink. The standard armament consisted of two radar- or infrared-guided Vympel R-23 (NATO: AA-7 "Apex") BVR missiles and two Molniya R-60 (NATO: AA-8 "Aphid") short-ranged infrared missiles. From 1974 onwards, double pylons were installed for the R-60s, enabling up to four missiles to be carried. Bombs, rockets and missiles could be carried for ground attack. Later, compatibility for the radio-guided Kh-23 (NATO: AS-7 "Kerry") ground-attack missile was added. Most Soviet MiGs were also wired to carry tactical nuclear weapons. Some 1300 MiG-23Ms were produced for the VVS and Soviet Air Defense Forces (PVO Strany) between 1972 and 1978. It was the most important Soviet fighter type from the mid-to-late 1970s.
     
  • MiG-23U ("Flogger-C") The MiG-23U was a twin-seat training variant. It was based on the MiG-23S, but featured a lengthened cockpit with a second crew station behind the first. One forward fuel tank was removed to accommodate an extra seat; this was compensated for by adding a new fuel tank in the rear fuselage. The MiG-23U had the S-21 weapon system, although the radar was later mostly removed. During its production run, both its wings and engine were improved to the MiG-23M standard. Production began at Irkutsk in 1971 and eventually converted to the MiG-23UB.
     
  • MiG-23UB ("Flogger-C") Very similar to MiG-23U except that the Tumansky R-29 turbojet engine replaced the older R-27 installed in the MiG-23U. Production continued until 1985 (for the export variant). A total of 769 examples were built, including conversions from the MiG-23U.
     
  • MiG-23MP ("Flogger-E") Similar to the MiG-23MS (described below), but produced in much fewer numbers and was never exported. Virtually identical to MiG-23MS except the addition of a dielectric head above the pylon, which was often associated with the ground-attack versions—for which it might have been a developmental prototype.
     
  • MiG-23MS ("Flogger-E") This was an export variant, as the '70s MiG-23M was considered too advanced to be exported to Third World countries. It was otherwise similar to MiG-23M, but it had the S-21 standard weapon system, with a RP-22SM (NATO: "Jay Bird") radar in a smaller radome, and the IRST was removed. Obviously, this variant had no BVR capability, and the only air-to-air missiles it was capable of using were the R-3S (NATO: AA-2a "Atoll") and R-60 (NATO: AA-8 "Aphid") IR-guided missiles and the R-3R (NATO: AA-2d "Atoll") semi-active radar homing (SARH) missile. The avionics suite was very basic. This variant was produced between 1973 and 1978 and exported principally to North Africa and the Middle East.


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