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MIG-23M MS Red 49, 4477th Test and Evaluation Sqn., Tonopah Test Range Airfield, USAF, 1980s
General Background
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 Aircraft
The 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron is based at the Tonopah Test Range Airfield, Nevada and was tasked with training USAF, USN and USMC crews how to better fight Soviet aircraft. The 4477th pilots would act as aggressors called Bandits flying Soviet built aircraft acquired by countries friendly to the US. Some of the aircraft used were MiG-17, 21, 23 and the Chinese Shenyang F-7B. MiG-23MS “Red 49” was used by Major Thomas Drake in 294 sorties and was the most experienced pilot of the 69 Bandits.
Specifications :
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
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)
Power Plant: 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
Unguided Bombs
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)