Hobby Master 1-72 Air Power
HA5312 MIG-23MLD Blue 03, Soviet Air Force, Bagram, Afghanistan, July 1987

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.

At Bagram AB, Afghanistan MiG-23MLD Blue 03 was one of the very few aircraft to receive desert camouflage. Late in the 1980s the MiG-23MLD Blue 03 was assigned to the 2nd AE, Center of Flight crew training (Aggressor). The unit had 2 squadrons with the 1st flying Mig-29s and the 2nd MiG-23. The MiG-23s would wear special “star” stripes on both sides of the fin and rudder as well as a sharkmouth. Under the starboard side of the cockpit the MiG-23s had a painted “Brave Viking” holding a cudgel and a helmet with a 2 on it.

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)