Following a protracted research and development phase, Mikoyan Gurevich’s MiG-23 finally entered service with the former Soviet Air Force in the early 1970s. Almost immediately, a number of foreign customers pressed Moscow for deliveries of this long-overdue type, expected to succeed the popular MiG-21 as a standard interceptor. Correspondingly, large numbers of MiG-23 interceptors and fighter-bombers were exported to five major Arab air forces in the mid-1970s.
This is a detailed history of the operational service of this Soviet-manufactured interceptor and its fighter-bomber variants in service with Algerian, Egyptian, Iraqi, Libyan, and Syrian air forces, since 1974. While Egypt purchased only a handful before its final break with Moscow, and Algeria limited related acquisitions, Iraq, Libya and Syria continued purchasing advanced variants in significant numbers through the 1980s. The units operating MiG-23s were soon transformed into the backbone of the military services in question, and they saw combat service in a number of intensive military conflicts. In the 1980s, they fought against Israeli jets over Lebanon, against the Iranians in the Iran-Iraq War, and confronted US Navy’s F-14s on numerous occasions off Libya. In 1991 Iraqi MiG-23s were deployed in combat against the US-led coalition’s F-15s. Indeed, in Syria, different versions of MiG-23 continue flying combat operations today.
Illustrated with over 110 photographs – many of these never published before –color profiles and a dozen maps, this volume provides a unique point of reference, revealing much detail about camouflage patterns, unit insignia and aircraft markings.
About the Author
Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. Following a career in worldwide transportation business – during which he established a network of contacts in the Middle East and Africa – he moved into narrow-focus analysis and writing on small, little-known air forces and conflicts, about which he has collected extensive archives. This has resulted in specialisation in such Middle Eastern air forces as of those of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, plus various African and Asian air forces. Except for authoring and co-authoring more than 30 books - including about a dozen of titles for Helion’s @War series - and over 1000 articles, Cooper is a regular correspondent for multiple defence-related publications.