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)]
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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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mixelflick

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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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