Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA5309 MIG-23MLD White 55, Capt. Maksimenko, 120 IAP, Bagram AB, Afghanistan 1989

In the 1960’s the Soviet military required a replacement for the MiG-21 that could compete with the USAF F-14 Tomcat. It had to be very fast, rapid acceleration, carry a larger payload, capable of a high service ceiling, long range and beyond visual range intercept capabilities. The project was given to the Mikoyan- Gurevich Design Bureau that produced the Model 23-11 that first flew on June 10, 1967. Production began in 1969 and eventually completed over 5,000 swing-wing MiG-23s. A ground-attack variant was also produced, the MiG-27.

The 120th IAP arrived at Bagram and Shindad Afghanistan as part of the 23rd Air Army in 1988 and stayed until January 31, 1989. The 120th IAP was formed in 1969 at Brest Oblast and transferred to Domna in 1971. The 120th IAP was re-equipped with MiG-23s in 1978 and flew them until 1993 when they converted to the MiG-29. The MiG-23MLD was the most numerous MiG-23 variant in Afghanistan. The MiG-23MLD was nicknamed “Grif – griffon” by VVS crews. Soviet forces were in Afghanistan from late 1979 until late 1989.

General specifications for the MiG-23

(NATO code name FLOGGER)
Country of Origin – Soviet Union
Manufacturer – Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau
Role – Fighter-Interceptor
Crew – 1 Pilot (2 X for the MiG-23UB and the MiG-23UM
First Flight – June 10, 1967
Length – 54 ft 8 ins (16.71 m) including nose probe Height 15 ft 1 in (4.82 m) Wingspan Fully Swept – 26 ft 7 ins (7.78 m) Fully Spread – 45 ft 8 ins (13.97 m)
Empty – 22,440 lbs (10,200 kg) Maximum Take-Off – 39,160 lbs (17,800 kg)
Powerplant – 1 X Soyuz/Tumansky R-35-300 Afterburning Turbojet Thrust – 28,600 lbs (13,000 kg) Maximum Speed – 1,553 mph (2,500 kmh) Service Ceiling – 60,680 ft (18,500 m) Range – 1,211 miles (1,950 km)
1 X GSh-23L 23mm Two-Barrel Cannon w/200 Rounds Maximum External Weapons Load – 6,600 lbs (3,000 kg) Weapons Options AAMs and ASMs R-3 (AA-2 Atoll) R-13R (AA-2-2 Atoll-C) R-13M (AA-2-2 Atoll-D) R-23R (AA-7 Apex) R-23T (AA-7 Apex) R-24R (AA-7 Apex) R-24T (AA-7 Apex) R-60 (AA-8 Aphid) R-60M (AA-8 Aphid)
Unguided Rockets S-5 S-8 S-24
Unguided Bombs FAB-250 FAB-500 OFAB-100 Fragmentation Bombs Cluster Bombs ZAB-500 Napalm Bombs UPK-23 250 Pods with a GSh-23L Cannon
Known variants
MiG-23B, MiG-23BN, MiG-23BK, MiG-23BM, MiG-23BN, MiG-23M, MiG-23MF, MiG-23ML MiG-23MLA, MiG-23MLD, MiG-23MS, MiG-23P, MiG-23S, MiG-23UB, MiG-23UM, MiG-24 (export MiG-23)