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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basher54321

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Unread post01 Sep 2019, 15:17

Analysis of Soviet flight manual data on the MiG-23ML with some comparisons against data from US flight manuals data for aircraft of that era.

The MiG-23ML was a second generation MiG-23 with a different lightened and higher stressed airframe for better performance. It should represent one of the best performing MiG-23s.

The French author has been flight modelling for many years.

http://www.checksix-fr.com/mig-23ml-fli ... ification/
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mixelflick

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Unread post02 Sep 2019, 13:56

Thanks for posting this, always wondered what the Mig-23 was capable of.

Air combat tells us it was among the worst of Soviet designs, and I believe many a former Soviet front line unit would concur. Still, it had its strong points. Too few though to make a difference, and even well flown models in Iraqi service were thoroughly trounced in Desert Storm. It just never had the right stuff IMO. Sidewinder and Sparrow fodder for F-14's, 15's and 16's around the world...
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hornetfinn

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Unread post03 Sep 2019, 12:06

MiG-23 is definitely a very interesting aircraft. I think one major reason for less than stellar record is that it came quite late, 10 years later than F-4. But instead it went to service just a few years before F-14/15/16 and F-4s were already upgraded with very good avionics and systems. Mig-23 seemed to have advantage over Mirage F1 in Angola in late 1980s. Of course SAAF Mirages had only IR guided missiles.
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viper12

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Unread post03 Sep 2019, 23:44

How dare you introduce a paper with some calculus ? I've seen some guys on these forums claiming to be aeronautical engineers have a heart attack when asked to do basic aerodynamics/physics/calculus. :twisted:

At least he didn't explicitely say the unit for the turn rate on page 9 so we can still have a good laugh when confronting these idiots. :mrgreen:
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viper12

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Unread post05 Sep 2019, 23:47

Actually, there's a typo in the PDF.

A quick dimensional analysis shows that on page 9, omega and R don't have the right units, and these should be :

omega = [g*sqrt(N^2 - 1)]/V
R = V^2/[g*sqrt(N^2 - 1)]
Everytime you don't tell the facts, you make Putin stronger.

Everytime you're hit by Dunning-Kruger, you make Putin stronger.
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laos

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Unread post08 Sep 2019, 07:34

Polish air forces had at the same time in the 90s MiG-23 and MiG-21 and preferred to withdraw MiG-23 and continue to operate MiG-21 until the introduction of the F-16. The MiG-23 had tragic ergonomics for the pilot.
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nastle

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Unread post10 Apr 2020, 06:52

mixelflick wrote:Thanks for posting this, always wondered what the Mig-23 was capable of.

Air combat tells us it was among the worst of Soviet designs, and I believe many a former Soviet front line unit would concur. Still, it had its strong points. Too few though to make a difference, and even well flown models in Iraqi service were thoroughly trounced in Desert Storm. It just never had the right stuff IMO. Sidewinder and Sparrow fodder for F-14's, 15's and 16's around the world...

I BElieve a lot more mig-21 have been shot down than mig-23

mig-23M /MF were quite a capable 3rd gen design but when pitted against IDAF/USAF with 4th gen fighters it obviously suffered a lot.

in desert storm iraqis were also HEAVILY outnumbered by USAF and its allies only like 40 mig-23 and 20 mig-25 vs hundreds of coalition aircraft.I believe to hold its own against a F-15 the mig-23 needs atleast 3.5 to 1 superority, and that too only works in the pre-AMRAAM era.As the AIM7 has the typical SARH limitation of 1 -2 targets at a time.

Similarly in Bekaa valley IDAF had every conceivable advantage better pilots, tactics, recon, ECM, doctrine, leadership, AWACS and more numerous 4th gen fighters.

In early to mid 80s its heyday there were 2100 mig-23 in USSR and it outnumbered almost all 3rd gen NATO fighters [F-4/mirage F1 mostly] by 2.5 to 1.Plus it would be operating in a defensive role within the soviet IADs in battlefield air superority and interception missions.In a few instances when Mig-23 did meet with western opposition on equal terms it did inflict damage on the same scale [F-5/F-4 in iran-iraq war, SAAF Mirage F1].

Just like most migs, mig-23 was custom designed for soviet requirements and not to be used as a stand alone fighter in 3rd world conflicts this is a fundamental design difference from many western jets 60s onwards which were capable of independent operations.To judge it outside of its habitat is not fair to the aircraft , but at the same time we should not overestimate the capabilities of soviet aircraft or think they are superior to western/US aircraft of similar era.

In some ways i feel like mig-23 combat record is tragic like that of F105, pressed into a role it was not designed for and in tactics that exacerbated its faults and did not take advantage of its virtues
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Unread post10 Apr 2020, 13:11

The only reason more Mig-21's were shot down was because there were MANY more Mig-21's produced. You can't even begin to make that argument, given only 5,000 Mig-23's were built vs. more than twice that number (11,496) for the Mig-21. Even more importantly, the Mig-21 flew MANY more sorties given its relative ease of maintenance, quick turnaround etc. vs. the more complex Mig-23, which many air forces who flew both can certainly attest. As such, the Mig-21 also flew in MANY more wars/conflicts.

The Iraqi Air Force may have been out-numbered, but they also had things a lot easier vs. coalition aircraft in many respects. First, they simply had to defend their airspace - not cross into Saudi Arabia/other coalition countries and establish air superiority above it. Second, their pilots had almost 10 years of combat experience vs. virtually none for US/other coalition pilots. Third, I've reviewed no great air battles between US F-15's and Iraqi Mig-23's where F-15's far outnumbered them. The numbers that I've seen were fairly even. Fourth, the Iraqi's may not have had AWACS but they DID have Ground Control Intercept radars, radar operators AND they had home field advantage/flying over their own turf.

The Mig-23's combat record has been abysmal for a reason: It was a poor design on many levels. The Israeli's convincingly waxed every arab Mig-23 they encountered. Ditto for USAF F-15 pilots (and USN Tomcat pilots, vs. Libyan Floggers). Same story with Iranian Tomcat pilots turning Iraqi Mig-23's into spare parts. No matter where it flew, the Mig-23.... sucked.

Sorry, but that's just the way it is. Combat record across the globe is atrocious...
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nastle

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Unread post10 Apr 2020, 14:49

The only reason more Mig-21's were shot down was because there were MANY more Mig-21's produced. You can't even begin to make that argument, given only 5,000 Mig-23's were built vs. more than twice that number (11,496) for the Mig-21.
only twice as many mig21s vs mig23s

so the number of mig-21 shot down vs mig-23 shot down, is a 2 to 1 ratio ?

a lot of mig-23 downed include the BN ground attack versions and MS [ essentially with mig-21 avionics/missiles]
if you have a break down I would be happy to change my views

no denying fishbed was a much simpler design than flogger , and in many conflicts fishbeds encountered much less sophisticated aircraft and of its generation like f-104, mirage III/5 etc



The Iraqi Air Force may have been out-numbered, but they also had things a lot easier vs. coalition aircraft in many respects. First, they simply had to defend their airspace - not cross into Saudi Arabia/other coalition countries and establish air superiority above it.
Iraq is not a tiny country , look at the size of the border
and the preemptive strikes by coalition forces totally paralyzed their system
Here again you are stating an IMPOSSIBILITY to even think of establishing air superority by iraq in 1991.Even if saudis were ALONE in 1991 they had 60x F-15 and that would have given the entire iraqi airforce a hell of a time
Second, their pilots had almost 10 years of combat experience vs. virtually none for US/other coalition pilots. Third, I've reviewed no great air battles between US F-15's and Iraqi Mig-23's where F-15's far outnumbered them.
Training is a HUGE factor
plus just because they experienced war with iran does not mean they became experts in air warfare , this is not ww2 where iraqis would become like the luftwaffe experten after 8 yrs of combat.It was not a target rich enviorment and although I', sure iraqis had some great pilots too but their experiences were limited considering the low number of air to air kills in that war.
air combat in the iran iraq war was patchy inconsistent and mostly to support ground forces , plus iraqi fighters probably more time hiding from f-14s than actually trying to fight them.

F-15 /AIM-7 was designed to combat a far greater density of floggers , more like 3 to 1 , so that is what I'm saying you would need like 12 x mig-23 to take on a quartet of f-15 with any degree of confidence and AFAIK nothing even close to that happened in 1991

The numbers that I've seen were fairly even. Fourth, the Iraqi's may not have had AWACS but they DID have Ground Control Intercept radars, radar operators AND they had home field advantage/flying over their own turf.
GCI /IADS was not the same available to WP/soviets and it was heavily under attack by coalition aircraft
the shooters may have been evenly matched but coalition had a lot of support aircraft in the air which prvenented the freedom of action of iraqis.For the flogger to be effective against 4th gen aircraft it needs to outnumber them significantly.Against 3rd gen jets it held its own, but it rarely got the chance to fight that kind of war.

The Israeli's convincingly waxed every arab Mig-23 they encountered.
and almost every other arab fighter they met bar none ,look at what israelis say about 1982 , Pollocks book "arabs at war" quoted an israeli general as saying it was not the equipement alone that caused such one sided results

Same story with Iranian Tomcat pilots turning Iraqi Mig-23's into spare parts.
F-14 is a FAR superior aircraft and with a killer ARH AIM-54, no fighter iraqis had stood a chance against it.For that matter F-14 is much more lethal at long ranges due to its active radar homing missiles than even the F-15/mirage 2000

still mig-23 and mirage f1 shot it down a couple of times with the right tactics

nobody is denying there were a LOT of problems with mig-23 [design flaws , maintenance, cockpit ergonomics, armament , agility] and worst of all was timing [ essentially a generation behind the contemporary fighters in NATO] but these faults are magnified by situation under which it was employed by airforces which used it according to their own doctrine e.g iraqi pilots were not following soviet approach to defending airspace in 1991 they had a lot of influences like indian, french etc they had neither the numbers equipment or doctrine to use the flogger B/G as intended.Soviets were far behind the west in tech and they produced fighters that could perform the minimum of roles within a narrow spectrum and play to their strengths.Their aircraft [except the most basic ones like mig-15/17] would always be inferior to West's fighters in a head to head comparison.Look at Mig-21 vs F-4C/D
F-18 vs Mig-29
Su-27 vs F-15
they were all markedly inferior to comparable western types
MIg-23MLD being a 3 rd gen + aircraft was still much inferior to F-4E
They needed other factors like numbers to compensate for this inferiority
so yes all modern soviet fighters "sucked" compared to similar western types in a 1 on 1 comparison
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madrat

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Unread post10 Apr 2020, 17:28

They did something right with MiG-23 or else there would not have been so many made. No doubt the monkey models got their heads handed to them, but there is a big discrepancy between technologies in the wars they participated within. The MiG-23 wasn't meant for the era of dogfights, but instead running out to intercept fighter-bombers and guide missiles at them. They really were in a similar vein to BAC Lightning except using radar-guided missiles conceived under a bit newer concept. Think how much better the design would have been if they had stellar basing conditions, worked under gentler maintenance schedules, and using more reliable fuel and lubricants. Flogger could have been multi-role as they were using an under-appreciated motor that could have done so much more than interceptions.
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milosh

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Unread post11 Apr 2020, 09:29

mixelflick wrote:The Mig-23's combat record has been abysmal for a reason: It was a poor design on many levels. The Israeli's convincingly waxed every arab Mig-23 they encountered. Ditto for USAF F-15 pilots (and USN Tomcat pilots, vs. Libyan Floggers). Same story with Iranian Tomcat pilots turning Iraqi Mig-23's into spare parts. No matter where it flew, the Mig-23.... sucked.


We get those Arabs to educate in our military schools during Cold war, and our folks have impression arab's pov was if target is hit it is God's will and not expertise of pilot/solider, so they didn't bother lot to train good. And those were Arab's officiers!

So using Arabs as some example how bad soviet tech is not so logical.

Btw look how bad MiG-21 was when Arabs used it and when Vietnamese used it.

Also don't forget, biggest problem for Soviets was american bomber fleet so they couldn't design fighters as west did. Their fighters need to have nice anti bomber capability, good example of anti bomber capability which reduce fighter capability was Korean's MiG-15. It had two 23mm and one 37mm, if you setup gun sight for 23mm you can't use 37mm precise and vise versa, 37mm was very useless in dogfights if we exclude phispological effect it wasn't easy when slow 37mm round fly pass you.

So if Soviets design MiG-15 as F-86 was design (to fight fighters) they will instead of one 37mm put two 23mm so they would increase fighter dogfight fire power two times.

Later you can see similar story with MiG-23 and MiG-25 which were armed with huge longer ranged missiles which are really useful against bomber targets.
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Unread post11 Apr 2020, 12:42

just to give an example almost similar number of mig-23Ms and Mirage F1s were shot down F-15C during the gulf war of 1991

Mirage F1 was a superb 3rd gen aircraft better than mig-23 in many respects but it was helpless in the face of onslaught unleashed by coalition air forces
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mixelflick

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Unread post11 Apr 2020, 14:40

Nothing you say is going to convince me the Mig-23 was a good fighter. NOTHING.

It was barely adequate, nevermind good. When Soviet units that were flying Mig-21's got 23's, they quickly wished they had their 21's back. Ditto for many foreign operators. That speaks volumes, don't you think? I just love how all the same tired, old excuses are rolled out for Russian equipment's poor combat record. For aircraft like the Mig-23, it usually goes something like this..

1.) They were export models, what did you expect!?
2.) They were flown by monkeys, of course they got trounced!
3.) They didn't have AWACS! Surely if they did, they would have prevailed!!
4.) They were poorly maintained! If they took better care of them, they would have won!

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...
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Unread post11 Apr 2020, 16:12

We know Warpact operators of MiG-23 wanted MiG-21's back because the export models were that bad. But I've yet to see MiG-21 be preferred over MiG-23 by sources from former Soviet forces.

The Russian aggressors in their training flew MiG-23s effectively against MiG-29s and Su-27s. The MiG-23 was a rocket compared to the MiG-21. So I am not sure where this bias from Soviets for MiG-21 would have came from.
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nastle

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Unread post11 Apr 2020, 17:16

mixelflick wrote:Nothing you say is going to convince me the Mig-23 was a good fighter. NOTHING.

It was barely adequate, nevermind good. When Soviet units that were flying Mig-21's got 23's, they quickly wished they had their 21's back. Ditto for many foreign operators. That speaks volumes, don't you think? I just love how all the same tired, old excuses are rolled out for Russian equipment's poor combat record. For aircraft like the Mig-23, it usually goes something like this..

1.) They were export models, what did you expect!?
2.) They were flown by monkeys, of course they got trounced!
3.) They didn't have AWACS! Surely if they did, they would have prevailed!!
4.) They were poorly maintained! If they took better care of them, they would have won!

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...

Here is the problem, you are too ideological about it.
I clearly say that all western aircraft were superior to all contemporary MIGS
You are assuming the rest and extrapolating based on your preconceived notions maybe due to your interaction with russian fanboys [ who are clearly very annoying and offer irrational reasons for inferiority of Russian jets]
We can just agree to disagree.
That being said lets not jump go the other extreme with Clancy like fiction either where everything that soviets make is make is a piece of junk and cannon fodder for western fighters.
As Ben Shapiro will say "facts not emotions" and we can arrive at a much more balanced conclusion.
Last edited by nastle on 12 Apr 2020, 01:22, edited 2 times in total.
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