Designed to provide Frontal Aviation with a tactical fighter offering secondary ground-attack capability, and capable of meeting contemporary Western fighters on more than equal terms, the MiG-23 was designed around the primary aim of an aircraft that could operate effectively without being tied to massive concrete runways. The Mikoyan bureau is known to have adopted two approaches to this requirement: first was the Ye-23 (or Ye-230) prototype of tailed-delta configuration and incorporated high-lift devices to give STOL capability, powered by a single turbofan engine supplemented by a battery of Kolesov lift-jets amidships for VTOL operations; the alternative prototype was the Ye-231, which deleted the lift-jets and replaced the delta wing by a variable-geometry wing.
The prototypes were evaluated during 1966-67, with a decision to develop the swing-wing Ye-231 finalised probably during 1968, resulting in the pre-production MiG-23S 'Flogger-A' which, powered by a Tumansky R-27 turbojet with an afterburning thrust of 10200kg, first entered service for operational evaluation in 1970-71.
At about this time it must have been decided to optmise the MiG-23 as an air-combat fighter, and to develop a dedicated ground-attack parallel version, which was allocated the designation MiG-27. In consequence, aerodynamic changes were made to the MiG-23, the fuselage structure being lightened and more advanced avionics being introduced by the time the initial MiG-23M version entered service in 1973. More or less simultaneously the dedicated attack variant was developed and, while having much in common with the MiG-23, this was sufficiently different to warrant the allocation of the separate designation MiG-27.
The series production Flogger B (MiG-23M) entered service in 1973, using an R-29 engine. The High Lark radar fitted to the Flogger B gave it a limited look-down capability, improved in 1978 by the addition of an under-nose infrared sensor. The export version of the Flogger B being the Flogger E.
The MiG-23MF, known to NATO as ‘Flogger-C’, differs from other versions by having a shorter dorsal fin, new sensors and a lighter radar.
Identified by Nato are the MiG-23 Flogger K interceptor with dog-tooth notches in the wing gloves, and the MiG-27 Flogger J with revised under-nose sensors and leading-edge root extensions.
There is also a MiG-23U Flogger C two-seat operational trainer, with an R-27 engine and Jay Bird radar, and featuring a longer cockpit and deeper dorsal spine.
Issued in quantity to the Soviet tactical air force, Frontal Aviation, the MiG-27 'Flogger-D' has an export counterpart in the MiG-23BN 'Flogger F', which retains the original 125070-kg (27,557-lb) R-29 afterburning turbojet (plus variable inlets and nozzle) and twin-barrel cannon.
The Flogger G was a modified version of the Flogger B interceptor with smaller dorsal fin. The similar MiG-23BN 'Flogger-H', another ‘high-speed' variant, is distinguished by two avionics pods astride the lower fuselage, forward of the nosewheel doors.
The Algerian airforce received 40 MiG-23BN.
Engine: 1 x R-29B, 120.2kN
Wingspan: 8.2-14.3 m / 26 ft 11 in - 46 ft 11 in
Length: 16.8 m / 55 ft 1 in
Height: 5.5 m / 18 ft 1 in
Wing area: 27.3 sq.m / 293.85 sq ft
Max take-off weight: 18000 kg / 39683 lb
Empty weight: 11000 kg / 24251 lb
Max. speed: 2500 km/h / 1553 mph
Ceiling: 18600 m / 61000 ft
Range w/max.fuel: 3000 km / 1864 miles
Range w/max.payload: 960 km / 597 miles
Armament: 1 x 23mm cannon, 2000kg of weapons
Mig-23 Flogger G
Engine: 1 x Tumansky R-29B.
Installed thrust (dry / reheat): 78.5 / 122 kN
Span: 14.3 m / 8.2 m
Length: 18.5 m
Wing area: 27 sq.m
Empty wt: 8200 kg
MTOW: 18,000 kg
Warload: 2000+ kg
Max speed: 2.4+ Mach
Ceiling: 20,000 m
TO run: 900 m
Ldg run: 900 m
Combat radius: 1300 km
Fuel internal: 5750 lt
Air refuel: No
Armament: 6 x AAM, 1 x 23 mm
Hard points: 5