MiG-23ML Analysis

Cold war, Korea, Vietnam, and Desert Storm - up to and including for example the A-10, F-15, Mirage 200, MiG-29, and F-18.
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milosh

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Unread post11 Apr 2020, 18:45

mixelflick wrote:And on and on and on. Just insert the name of any Mig here, and it's the same old story. Mig-21, 23, 25, 29. Just re-arrange a few numbers, the end result is the same.

When you have a combat record with more wins vs. losses, you can come talk to me. Until then, it's all BS...


25 was quite good if you look how little MiG-25P Iraq had and what they do with them. In 1990, IRAF had less then 20 MiG-25 of all variants. For example Soviets had 350 MiG-25P in 1990 of which 150 MiG-25PD and 200 MiG-25PDS.

MiG-29 can't be judge well because IRAF got them no much before ODS and they didn't get R-73 which make big difference. Without R-73, MiG-29 is heavy penalized against F-15 and even F-16, because it need to use tiny R-60 so it need to get almost in F-15/16 tail to be able to score hit while F-15/16 with much better latest AIM-9 versions had nice range advantage.

MiG-23 on other hand wasn't great plane no matter what version we are looking. It was great for era when it was design but that era was gone fast with 4gen fighters. Soviets though did try to fix poor dogfight capability by provide R-73 but without helmet mounted sight it wasn't that effective and even with HMS it is questionable because of very poor cockpit visibility.
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nastle

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Unread post12 Apr 2020, 01:17

milosh wrote:
mixelflick wrote:And on and on and on. Just insert the name of any Mig here, and it's the same old story. Mig-21, 23, 25, 29. Just re-arrange a few numbers, the end result is the same.

When you have a combat record with more wins vs. losses, you can come talk to me. Until then, it's all BS...


. For example Soviets had 350 MiG-25P in 1990 of which 150 MiG-25PD and 200 MiG-25PDS.

.

thanks for the numbers of mig-25, can you please let me know your source

as I found some issues here e.g Military balance 1989-1990 gives number of > 400 in 1988-1990 period
yet yefim gordon states 104 PD were built 300 or so were converted from P to PDS, if this includes exports to iraq syria libya and algeria then soviet PVO/VVS probably had no more than 300
can you help clarify this ?

regarding mig23 its interesting that the soviets in early 80s DECREASED the number of tactical fighters in the frontline VVS regiments based in east Europe [probably recognizing that the mig23 was no match for the F-15] and increased the number of strike fighters [su-24/mig-27].They probably were planning to send these tactical bombers unescorted in case of war with NATO and keeping mig23s only for defense and not for escort missions.Obviously I'm just speculating not sure, maybe you can shed some light on this ? appreciate it
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milosh

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Unread post12 Apr 2020, 19:25

I don't have exact numbers I saw those numbers in text about MiG-25P, ~150 new build MiG-25PD and 200 upgraded PDS for Soviet air defense. So ~300 PDS are with export upgrades.

Reducing MiG-23 numbers is logical, MiG-29 production was in full swing, it was 4gen, it can use R-73 to its maximum, had R-27R which were lot more useful in fighter vs fighter then R-23 which MiG-23 was use even in late 80s, only in 90s MiG did developed MiG-23-98 which is compatible with R-27R.
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Unread post13 Apr 2020, 15:00

Steve Ritchie comments on the MIg-21 at the 46:20 mark of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WkjdZHkOIY


Also, Alexander Zuyev on pg 123 (and in other areas of his book "Fulcrum") describes the Mig-23, here is one example in his own words: "Even though the Mig-23 was a bastard of an airplane to master, I qualified as a Third Class pilot on the aircraft in August 1983." Additionally, the books "Red Eagles"by Steve Davies and "America's Secret Mig Squadron"by Gail Peck - both give rather unfavorable reviews of Mig-23's handling characteristics.


I think the Mig-23 was the resultant of the milieu of the time. The mid-60's were typically when Variable Geometry was a rather popular aircraft design (though not all had it). Yet, VG has some good points -and- bad points. One thing, I highly doubt (as described in that paper on pg. 22) the Mig-23 (any model) would equal or better the F-14A Tomcat most notably if both jets are at 50% internal fuel and near equal AAM load-out in the compared turning parameter.
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nastle

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Unread post13 Apr 2020, 21:19

f-16adf wrote:Steve Ritchie comments on the MIg-21 at the 46:20 mark of this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9WkjdZHkOIY


Also, Alexander Zuyev on pg 123 (and in other areas of his book "Fulcrum") describes the Mig-23, here is one example in his own words: "Even though the Mig-23 was a bastard of an airplane to master, I qualified as a Third Class pilot on the aircraft in August 1983." Additionally, the books "Red Eagles"by Steve Davies and "America's Secret Mig Squadron"by Gail Peck - both give rather unfavorable reviews of Mig-23's handling characteristics.


I think the Mig-23 was the resultant of the milieu of the time. The mid-60's were typically when Variable Geometry was a rather popular aircraft design (though not all had it). Yet, VG has some good points -and- bad points. One thing, I highly doubt (as described in that paper on pg. 22) the Mig-23 (any model) would equal or better the F-14A Tomcat most notably if both jets are at 50% internal fuel and near equal AAM load-out in the compared turning parameter.


F-14 was light years ahead of Mig-23 any variant

The biggest advantage of Flogger B/G was numbers, if soviets had produced 1000+ more of the fighters in the 1978-1983 period they would have put NATO/CHina at a serious disadvantage.
But they only built 1350 M, 1200 ML and 321 P versions for domestic use which was barely sufficent for European units
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hornetfinn

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Unread post14 Apr 2020, 09:30

I think the main problem for MiG-23 was that it was one of the later 3rd gen fighters to enter widespread use. Only Saab JA39 Viggen came slightly later. Of course the Chinese J-8II came later and was pretty much the last 3rd gen fighter to enter service, although it was a very heavy modification of original 1960's J-8.

But anyway MiG-23M was the first truly mass produced MiG-23 variant and it entered service in 1973 IIRC. Earlier variants were very underwhelming like MiG-23S with MiG-21bis avionics and weapons. Then a more refined MiG-23ML came in late 1970s. By then about 5,000 F-4s had been produced and it had been in service for almost 20 years. Also F-14, F-15 and F-16 became operational at about the same time or even earlier. MiG-23 was definitely not very competitive with the first two, especially when it came to avionics and maneuverability. F-16 didn't initially have any BVR missiles, but was otherwise much superior all around.

I've thought about how the Soviets could've done things differently with MiG-23. They could not do much better avionics systems at the time, but maybe they should've opted for more traditional design like F-4, Saab Viggen or Mirage F1. That would've been cheaper and easier to maintain.
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Unread post14 Apr 2020, 12:13

Su-19 was an interceptor with two seats that evolved into a fighter-bomber, in the same era. So it's not like they didn't think about it. Soviet design houses built whatever Central Planning required. MiG-23 was designed to be what it was and then they abandoned it for the next new thing. Soviet procurement was schizophrenic because leadership lopped off the heads of free thinkers. Safe, albeit flawed designs built around unsound assumptions, ruled the day. If you thought MiG-23 was bad, look at their car industry during the period.
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hornetfinn

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Unread post14 Apr 2020, 12:37

What I was really interesting was the fact that they manufactured and operated two almost identical fighter-bombers in MiG-27 and Su-17 at the same time. But IMO, the MiG-27 was the best MiG-23 variant and one where the basic design and layout worked better than in fighter version.
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Unread post14 Apr 2020, 14:10

hornetfinn wrote:What I was really interesting was the fact that they manufactured and operated two almost identical fighter-bombers in MiG-27 and Su-17 at the same time. But IMO, the MiG-27 was the best MiG-23 variant and one where the basic design and layout worked better than in fighter version.

I always wondered that too , if they already had the su-17 by mid 70s it would have been much better to just keep that for CAS and focus on the su-19/24 for the deep strike /interdiction role .What purpose mig27 served which su17/24 cannot ?
They could have built the mig-23mL a little earlier and far greater quantities then.

They could not do much better avionics systems at the time, but maybe they should've opted for more traditional design like F-4, Saab Viggen or Mirage F1. That would've been cheaper and easier to maintain.

with engines available to them do you think an airframe like F1/viggen would have given the same high speed performance/low speed handling ?

F-16 didn't initially have any BVR missiles, but was otherwise much superior all around.

why were they not given AIM-7 , even turkeys F-16C didnt have them ?
but egypt got its C in 1986 with AIM-7
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Unread post14 Apr 2020, 15:38

nastle wrote:why were they not given AIM-7 , even turkeys F-16C didnt have them ?
but egypt got its C in 1986 with AIM-7




AIM-7s were not originally on F-16s because there was no requirement (aka political reasons). So no AIM-7 - instead AMRAAM was part of the program and was supposed to be in service by 1985 but got delayed a tad. The ADF case was a one off special requirement.

Looking doubtful Egypt had them that early on their Block 32s considering AIM-7 was not flight tested and certified on F-16C by GD until 1989. Would be good if there was more from the Egyptian side on their early (or any) operation.
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milosh

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Unread post14 Apr 2020, 18:40

hornetfinn wrote:I've thought about how the Soviets could've done things differently with MiG-23. They could not do much better avionics systems at the time, but maybe they should've opted for more traditional design like F-4, Saab Viggen or Mirage F1. That would've been cheaper and easier to maintain.


If there wasn't such huge hype about speed they would probable go with MiG E-8, which would be MiG-21 evolution:
https://www.testpilot.ru/russia/mikoyan/e/8/e8_e.htm
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Unread post15 Apr 2020, 08:46

nastle wrote:
hornetfinn wrote: They could not do much better avionics systems at the time, but maybe they should've opted for more traditional design like F-4, Saab Viggen or Mirage F1. That would've been cheaper and easier to maintain.

with engines available to them do you think an airframe like F1/viggen would have given the same high speed performance/low speed handling ?


I'm thinking basically a fixed wing variant of MiG-23 with same engine, body and avionics. That would likely mean somewhat longer take-off and landing distances and slightly lower high speed performance. I think they could've lived with those things if that brings the costs and maintenance requirements down. Saab Viggen had even better take-off and landing distances due to lower weight, about equal thrust and large canards. It wasn't even that much slower than MiG-23.

nastle wrote:
F-16 didn't initially have any BVR missiles, but was otherwise much superior all around.

why were they not given AIM-7 , even turkeys F-16C didnt have them ?
but egypt got its C in 1986 with AIM-7


Gums has said that F-16s basically just lacked the CW illuminator to use AIM-7s. Those were added to later F-16 variants and modifications. But early on MiG-23ML had the advantage of having actual BVR weapon in service. Of course F-16 was better in almost all other ways besides top speed.
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Unread post15 Apr 2020, 08:48

milosh wrote:
hornetfinn wrote:I've thought about how the Soviets could've done things differently with MiG-23. They could not do much better avionics systems at the time, but maybe they should've opted for more traditional design like F-4, Saab Viggen or Mirage F1. That would've been cheaper and easier to maintain.


If there wasn't such huge hype about speed they would probable go with MiG E-8, which would be MiG-21 evolution:
https://www.testpilot.ru/russia/mikoyan/e/8/e8_e.htm


Now that is very interesting looking MiG-21 evolution. It looks like something I was thinking about.
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Unread post15 Apr 2020, 12:41

It would have taken more than a big wing to change the course of development. Soviet engines had good power high and fast, not low and slow. The swingwing was because they didn't have the torque to pull out of a hole. Maybe when Al-31 matured they could have done that, but we're talking maybe 15 years. So we're talking a bigger front stage on the motor. Big decrease in top end speed. A focus on different handling characteristics. A whole new plane. Not even a plane in the same vein as MiG-23PD.

Maybe if Ye-8 led to a MiG-23 sized plane with low aspect main wing and strong control surfaces in the tail and foreplanes. You are probably looking at something that resembles China's J-10. But even then you don't have the actuator power of western aircraft at the time. The Soviets really lagged behind there. And you're talking a larger foreplane relative to Ye-8 to support the radar. Soviet designs pushed the slim shape necessary for high speeds, so even with these changes you are still talking about a design with no hope to turn with an F-16.
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Unread post15 Apr 2020, 14:59

milosh wrote:
mixelflick wrote:And on and on and on. Just insert the name of any Mig here, and it's the same old story. Mig-21, 23, 25, 29. Just re-arrange a few numbers, the end result is the same.

When you have a combat record with more wins vs. losses, you can come talk to me. Until then, it's all BS...


25 was quite good if you look how little MiG-25P Iraq had and what they do with them. In 1990, IRAF had less then 20 MiG-25 of all variants. For example Soviets had 350 MiG-25P in 1990 of which 150 MiG-25PD and 200 MiG-25PDS.

MiG-29 can't be judge well because IRAF got them no much before ODS and they didn't get R-73 which make big difference. Without R-73, MiG-29 is heavy penalized against F-15 and even F-16, because it need to use tiny R-60 so it need to get almost in F-15/16 tail to be able to score hit while F-15/16 with much better latest AIM-9 versions had nice range advantage.

MiG-23 on other hand wasn't great plane no matter what version we are looking. It was great for era when it was design but that era was gone fast with 4gen fighters. Soviets though did try to fix poor dogfight capability by provide R-73 but without helmet mounted sight it wasn't that effective and even with HMS it is questionable because of very poor cockpit visibility.


I agree with virtually all of this, but in particular the points about the Mig-25 and 23. Had the Mig-25 pilots been more numerous and some luck been on their side, air superiority may not have been so easily won by the coalition. For a 3rd generation design tasked with combating 4th gen fighters, it put up an admirable showing. It even scored a kill the first night of the war, Capt. Scott Speicher's F/A-18C. That's a huge feather in its cap IMO, especially given the F/A-18C was a full generation ahead.

Your points about the Mig-23 just validate my own thoughts on the aircraft. No matter who flew it/what version, they invariably wound up trounced...
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