Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA5310 MIG-23MLD 2nd Squadron "Aggressor", Turkmenia, November 1990

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 1521st Center for Combat Employment was established in 1970 in Mary, Oblast (province) in Turkmenia SSR and since 1979 is better known as 1521st Aviation Base for its role as a waypoint for aircraft going to and from Afghanistan. The base is also home to 2nd Squadron “Aggressor” that was equipped with MiG-23MLDs from 1980 until 1992. The 2nd Squadron task was to train other units in air-to-air combat using the airspace over the Ashuluk Range. The 2nd Squadron logo is a Brave Viking with a cudgel (club).

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
Dimensions
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)
Weight
Empty – 22,440 lbs (10,200 kg) Maximum Take-Off – 39,160 lbs (17,800 kg)
Performance
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)
Armament
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)