Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 Flogger (with video)

Interceptor Aircraft / Fighter (1970)

By Staff Writer 

The MiG-23 Flogger was the Soviet Union's first variable swing-wing fighter and paved the way for the equally-successful MiG-27 Flogger ground strike variant.

The Mach 2-capable MiG-23 "Flogger" became the first "swing-wing" fighter to enter service with the Soviet Union and went on to become a primary mount of the Soviet air services (replacing the range-limited MiG-21 "Fishbed") making it one of the most-produced and successful aircraft of the Cold War. The MiG-23 was made into a dedicated strike / fighter-bomber in the similar-yet-modified MiG-27 series. The MiG-23 itself went on to prove a reliable and robust performer through decades of service (and several notable wars and conflicts) and continues in active service with some air forces today. Relatively cheap for its time (between three and six million dollars a plane), the Mikoyan-Gurevich product was an easy sell to Warsaw Pact nations and Third World allies alike. In all, the MiG-23 represented the most important Soviet fighter for a good part of the 1970s and the early 1980s and were made all-the-more potent by their ability to carry nuclear-tipped weapons.

It should be noted that through most of the Cold War, the MiG-23 was thought to be nothing more than a "serviceable" and "highly utilitarian" aircraft at best. It was only some decades later that the old Western observations were upgraded to conclude that the MiG-23 was an impressive design in its own right, one that could match or (in some cases) out-best many of the available Western counterparts of the time.

About the MiG-27 "Flogger"

The MiG-27 "Flogger" is a direct development of the MiG-23 detailed in this entry and has its own write-up elsewhere on this website. The MiG-27 is essentially a dedicated ground-attack fighter-bomber form of the MiG-23 "Flogger" fighter / interceptor. It features the same swing-swing capability but is armored for low-level strike runs, has a broadened ground ordnance role across more external hardpoints and sports new fixed intake inlets. Its engine is decidedly less-complicated and features a simpler nozzle for the reduced-performance role. The twin-barrel cannon of the MiG-23 has given way to a multi-barrel type and special target acquisition systems are standard as is a terrain avoidance radar. The MiG-27 is discernable from the MiG-23 by its sleeker tapered nose cone assembly (promoting better "lookdown" capabilities). The MiG-27 was developed in two major derivatives under the NATO codenames of "Flogger-D" and the "Flogger-J". Use of the MiG-27 was primarily with the Soviet Union and India and began deliveries in 1975, ultimately seeing retirement with Russia in the 1990s. India took up license production of the type under the Hindustan Aeronautics banner as the Bahadur (or "Valiant").


Mikoyan-Gurevich began as a manufacturer of piston-powered fighters during World War 2 with their most notable creations being the "hotrod" MiG-1 and MiG-3 fighters. Success continued in the post-war world with the unveiling of their revolutionary single-seat, single-engine MiG-15 "Fagot" jet-powered fighter in the Korean War - coming as quite the surprise to NATO forces to which the North American F-86 Sabre was directly developed to counter the new threat. The MiG-15 was followed into service by the much-improved MiG-17 "Fresco", another single-seat, single-engine implement with greater handling and performance overall. The MiG-19 "Farmer" then appeared as a twin-engine solution with supersonic (Mach 1.0) capability. Mikoyan-Gurevich found additional success with the development of the MiG-21 "Fishbed" - a Mach 2-capable single-seat, single-engine fighter that went on to be used throughout the world as both an interceptor and a limited strike fighter. This lengthy history had cemented Mikoyan-Gurevich as a major player in the development of Cold War jet fighters and solidified valuable experience gained in the design and development of different wing systems to solve different speed criteria and furthered the firm's understanding of jet-powered machines to keep Soviet air forces on par with their American counterparts.

By this time, McDonnell Douglas had brought online the fabulous F-4 Phantom II, a twin-seat, twin-engine Mach 2-capable fighter with a strong dogfighting prowess and inherent strike capabilities. The F-4 featured a powerful radar system coupled with high performance specifications and quickly became the primary mount of the USAF, USN and the USMC during her reign and, later, was fielded across Europe as an ultimate Soviet deterrent. The F-111 Aardvark was another American Cold War fighter design intended to solve a need for both the USAF and USN in one fail swoop. It featured a twin-seat, side-by-side cockpit, powerful twin engines and variable geometry wings for different flight performances. However, this expensive design bloated to become a long-range strike aircraft and was far from a fighter in the end product. Regardless, the F-4 and the F-111 would be the MiG-23's principle adversaries during the latter's design and development stages.


The MiG-21 "Fishbed" was good for what it was initially designed for - speed. It could climb fast and achieve speeds of up to Mach 2 while fielding capable avionics and a weapons system that included both short-range cannon and longer-range missiles for most jobs at hand. However, if the MiG-21 was deficient in any areas it was in operational range, combat payload and its reliance on ground-based interception to help guide the system to a target area (no self-sustained sensors were onboard to handle such actions). Jet powerplants had always proven thirsty since the days of World War 2 and post-war jet technology the world over had yet to wholly solve the need for greater range output out of their engines - though progress was sure and steady by the time of the MIG-23 development. The clipped delta wings and slim fuselage of the MiG-21 had limited its armament potential across just four hardpoints by the time of the later production models. In all, this tailed-delta design was adequate for the interception role and, though it was developed into a ground strike variant, it was far from the answer of a the true multi-role performer that the Soviet Air Force was now looking for.

Development of the MiG-23 began in the early part of the 1960s as an attempt by the MiG bureau to counter the limitations of their MiG-21 product. As the Soviet authorities were growing evermore disappointed with the range of their MiG-21s, a new official specification was formed by 1965. The specification called for a modern, larger and heavier aircraft to be produced in two varied forms - an interceptor for use by the Soviet air defense force (PVO) and a ground-attack version for use by the Soviet tactical air forces, Frontal Aviation - all this while not requiring the aircraft to use much runway.

The challenge to Mikoyan-Gurevich lay in getting such a large plane off of the ground in a short amount of time. Greater power and size would naturally come at the expense of added weight and require more real estate before take-off and during landing. Two Mikoyan-Gurevich design groups were formed and the first team looked to direct Short Take-Off and Landing (STOL) solutions for their new jet. The second design team looked into an airframe approach utilizing a variable geometry wing (or "swing wing") assembly to help offset the long take-off runs while at the same time offering greater payloads by making use of underwing hardpoints as well as underfuselage weapon stations. Both designs were put into action concurrently beginning in 1964 and progress was soon realized by 1966.

The first design team put forth the Model 23-01 prototype type (eventually becoming the MiG-23PD). This aircraft was a similar - though larger - "tailed-delta" wing design not unlike the MiG-21 before it. Wings were tapered and clipped at the tips while the cockpit sat ahead of a raised fuselage spine and behind a nose cone. Intakes were fitted to the sides of the fuselage to make way for the expected radome. One major difference between the MiG-21 and the Model 23-01 was the fitting of two Kolesov RD-36-35 "lift" jets in the fuselage. The lift jets were situated along the center fuselage for best effect and could be used equally in landing and take-off procedures thusly resulting in shorter runway distances being used. Standard thrust would be derived from a single Tumansky R-27-300 standard powerplant placed within the fuselage amidships. Tests were started with a first flight on April 3rd, 1967, and proved the design sound. The aircraft was unveiled at the 1967 Domododevo Air Show three months later to which Western observers took note and - in true NATO fashion - assigned it the lackluster nickname of "Faithless".

The second design team took their swing-wing approach and produced the Model 23-11 prototype. Utilizing a similar fuselage as that of the Model 23-01, the Model 23-11 aircraft fitted the same Tumansky R-27-300 powerplant, nose assembly and empennage. However, along its midsection, the 23-11 made use of the heavy and complicated component needed to control the variable geometry wings. The system would allow for the required changes to the wing sweep of the aircraft depending on the in-flight action, in effect promoting better characteristics during the landing/take-off, cruise and high-performance flight categories. First flight was accomplished on April 10th, 1967. Like the 23-01 prototype, the 23-11 prototype was also debuted at Domodoevo and Western observers bestowed the name of "Flogger" to the type.

A Decision is Made

The earlier 23-01 prototype was a solid attempt at solving the STOL issue. However, it quickly became apparent that the design was not going to produce a livable solution. The lift jets were effective at their given job during take-off and landing but, once the aircraft was in flight, the lift jets offered no performance advantage while at the same time penalized the aircraft by increasing its weight. Essentially, once the aircraft was airborne there was little use for these lift jets, making them more of a novelty concept than practical fair.

The 23-11 swing-wing prototype (Ye-231) was promising yet held its own inherent drawbacks. The swing-wing component was a complicated affair that proved heavy and large, requiring a large housing within the fuselage for which to work in. However, the inherent applicable benefits looked to be just what Mikoyan-Gurevich and Soviet authorities were looking for. The wings could be made strong enough to sustain heavy ordnance loads - greater than that of the preceding MiG-21 - while still retaining performance. As such, priority was given to the 23-11 design, leaving the 23-01 prototype to the pages of aviation history books.

Flight testing of the 23-11 prototype continued on into 1968 and culminated with the 98th flight - not one flight recorded any serious abnormalities in the design. The smooth development ushered in a production order and the legacy of the MiG-23 "Flogger" was now born. The MiG-23 was introduced in 1970 and began entering service in 1971,being made ready in quantity by 1973.


The utilitarian appearance of the MiG-23 can work well in fooling the casual observer to quickly writing off the MiG-23 as "just another Cold War workman-like Soviet design". However, despite the aircraft's basic design layout and many conventional components, the MiG-23 proved that there was more to the airframe than what was exhibited. The design was capped by a conical assembly housing the radar system. The cockpit was situated just aft of this assembly and featured seating for the pilot with adequate views forward, above and to the sides. Cockpit vision was hindered by way of the raised fuselage spine and high-mounted wings, both playing critical roles in the variable geometry wing process. Rear-view mirrors helped to an extent but the priority for the design was always in forward and downward visibility from the cockpit at high speeds. 

Going against previous Mikoyan-Gurevich jet designs and their identifiable nose-mounted intakes, the MiG-23 utilized split rectangular side intake inlets with each opening fitted to either side of the fuselage, just aft of the cockpit. From there, the fuselage took on a tubular look with slab-sides. The empennage consisted of a large single engine exhaust ring, a large-area tapered vertical tail fin emerging from the fuselage spine and sporting clipped and swept edges and strong conventional horizontal tailplanes. A ventral fin was noted just under the engine exhaust housing. One of the definitive characteristics of the MiG-23 became its tricycle landing gear arrangement with all three centered along the fuselage (as opposed to fitting the main landing gears in the wings - impossible on a swing-wing aircraft design). The complicated main landing gears retracted into housings along the sides of the fuselage and were single-wheeled. The twin-wheeled nose landing gear recessed rearwards just under the cockpit floor. When at rest on the ground, the MiG-23 definitely maintained a pronounced and distinct appearance all her own.

Of course the most notable exception to the "conventionality" of the MiG-23 design lay in its wings. The wings were extended from the main fuselage body via static swept-wing "gloves" located at the wing roots. The variable geometry wing system allowed for three modes of flight that included take-off/landing, cruising and high-performance. The initial mode with wings fully extended sported a (approximately) 16-degree sweep angle and was sufficient in promoting stable low-speed flight by incorporating more drag and lift. The second mode, this at a 45-degree sweep angle, was used in typical cruising actions where a balance of drag and sweep was optimal. The final mode saw the wings fully-retracted by way of a 72-degree sweep, allowing for good high-performance flight at altitude by decreasing drag and forward surface area. The value of such a system would still allow the MiG-23 to carry a potent ordnance load across fuselage, wingroot and underwing weapon stations while still retaining strong performance output. Additionally, the MiG-23 afforded its operators an increase in range that would make the MiG-21 envious.


Like the MiG products before it, the lethality of the MiG-23 was made potent by its ever-expanding weapons suite primarily coupled to the radar, HUD (Heads-Up Display) and gunsight. Standard armament became a twin-barreled 23mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L cannon with 200 to 260 projectile rounds (sources vary) mounted in a GP-9 gun pack under the fuselage. Six total hardpoints allowed for up to 6,600lbs of external stores. Hardpoints included two fuselage stations, two underwing "glove" stations and two underwing pylons for the fitting of various air-to-air missile systems. Cleared missile systems eventually included the AA-7 "Apex", AA-8 "Aphid", AA-10 "Alamo", AA-11 "Archer" and AA-12 "Adder" missiles of differing seeker heads and engagement range. A typical interceptor loadout became 2 x AA-7 "Apex" radar/infra-red and 2 x AA-8 "Aphid" short-range infrared missile assortments. In 1974, "double pylons" - fitting two missiles to one weapon station - were fitted for increased loadouts.

The resulting expansion of the MiG-23 as a ground attack fighter enabled the type to bring to bear a bevy of conventional drop bombs, napalm, rocket pods and air-to-surface missiles as needed (as well as nuclear-tipped weapons). Further development would create the dedicated MiG-27 series variant.

The First Floggers

Entry of the first MiG-23s into Soviet air service proved somewhat disappointing. The first production variant became the MiG-23S to which its "S" designation denoted the use of the new pulse-Doppler "Sapfir-23" radar system in the nose. However, delays to the Sapfir radar program caused these Floggers to instead ship with the more primitive RP-22SM "Jay Bird" radar systems as found on the MiG-21 "Fishbeds". This move, though a necessity, drastically cut down on the usefulness of the new jet as a modern interceptor. This particular MiG-23 model was now incapable of Beyond Visual Range (BVR) actions and was essentially limited against its Western counterparts right out of the gate. It limitations kept the MiG-23S model from ever materializing into a frontline operational fighter.

To counter the deficiencies of the initial MiG-23S production models and its "Jay Bird" radar installation, Mikoyan-Gurevich moved quickly to produce the improved MiG-23M ("M" signifying its "modified" state). The M-model fitted the intended Sapfir radar system when it was finally made available. The new MiG-23 officially made itself the most potent MiG product to date as the Sapfir radar raised the capabilities of the aircraft and - coupled with the right missile system (this being the AA-7 "Apex" air-to-air missile) - could now be considered a feared interceptor capable of matching wits with the best of the West.

Flogger Frenzy

As the only production swing-wing fighter in Soviet service, the MiG-23 was something of a must-have novelty for its allies and supporters. As such, interest was generated from nations wanting the system in their inventories. However, the MiG-23 (in its base production form) was something of a closely-held project for the Soviet Union, being that it utilized sophisticated and sensitive internal systems not meant for public consumption. As such, the MiG-23 had to be developed into simplified (sometimes referred to as "sanitized") forms for the sole purpose of export. This often occurred in two distinct forms - one for Warsaw Pact nations and another for "trusted" Third World export customers. Warsaw Pact nations were generally given a slightly revised version of the base Soviet models while Third World customers were given downgraded forms featuring simpler radar. Such thinking produced the MiG-23MS and the MiG-23MF export models.

Sales proved a success and the MiG-23 found its way into the inventories of many-a-nation around the world. When all was said and done, some 5,047 MiG-23s were produced between 1967 through 1984. Foreign operators became Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Belarus, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Czechoslovakia, Cote d'Ivoire, Cuba, East Germany, Egypt, Ethiopia, Georgia, Hungary, Kazakhstan, India (as the Rakshak "Defender/Protector"), Iran, Iraq, Libya, Namibia, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Turkmenistan, Ukraine, Yemen, Vietnam and Zimbabwe. Operators were generally concentrated throughout Asia, the Middle East and North Africa (Cuba is of particular note here however, as its proximity to the United States would allow the MiG-23 to reach potential targets in Florida with relative ease).

Other Flogger Users

China received several MiG-23 systems from Egypt and - in true Chinese fashion - attempted a program to reverse-engineer the aircraft for their own needs. The program itself proved something of a failure though lessons learned in the process lent themselves quite well to other forthcoming projects. Israel obtained a MiG-21 of Syrian origin via a pilot defection. After evaluation, this MiG-23 eventually became a "trophy" outside Hatzerim Airbase. Other Egyptian MiG-23s found their way to the United States via the Foreign Material Acquisition/Exploitation program. These were studied extensively and ultimately featured in war games with the 4477th Test and Evaluation Squadron at Tonopah, serving under the American designation of YF-113 well into the 1980s.

The Variants

While the Model 23-11 (Ye-231) formed the basis of the MiG-23 line, it was further enhanced by a slew of modifications and upgrades during its production run. The MiG-23 became a base model designation that featured its cannon armament without the external weapon hardpoints while introducing a "sawtooth" wing leading edge. These served as pre-production evaluation aircraft to provide the program with valuable pilot and in-flight systems feedback.

The MIG-23S became the first production model though it was limited in practical use to operational trials rather than frontline operations. Roughly 50 to 60 examples were produced in all. The aircraft lacked the Sapfir radar (losing its Beyond Visual Range capability) but were fielded with improved forms of the Tumansky R-27F2M-300 series engines yielding up to 22,046lbs of standard thrust. These aircraft were given the same radar and weapons suite as the MiG-21MF/bis production models (Rp-22 "Jay Bird") as an interim solution until the Sapfir was being made ready. The radar was housed under a shorter radome than initially planned. A twin-barreled 23mm GSh-23L cannon system was affixed to the underside of the fuselage. Infra-Red Search and Tracking was via the TP-23 system. Production of the type lasted from 1969 through to the 1970.

The MiG-23SM was the improved MiG-23S but still served in a pre-production evaluation role. Some 80 examples were eventually produced and these MiG-23s sported the full S-23 weapons suite (including the Sapfir-23 "High Lark" radar), an improved Tumansky R-27F2M-300 engine and capability for the AA-7 "Apex" semi-active, radar-homing missile system. The additions brought back Beyond Visual Range capability while the fire control system was redesigned and autopilot was improved. Wings were slightly revised as were the wing sweep positions (now 18.5, 47.5 and 74.5 degrees for the three available positions). An extra fuel tank was added internally for increased range. Engines were later improved to the Soyuz (Tumansky) R-29-300 series engines of 27,557lbs standard thrust fitting a shorter jetpipe.

The Ye-231, MiG-23, MiG-23S and MiG-23SM fell under the NATO first generation "Flogger-A" codename.

The MiG-23M was the first "true" mass-production form of the Flogger. First flight occurred in June of 1972 and production followed soon after. The powerplant was further uprated and sensor equipment was installed. The Sapfir-23 "High Lark" was an improved version of the original Doppler system and housed under a larger radome. The ASP-23D gunsight was installed and the vertical tail fin was relocated further aft, resulting in a definitive change in the aircraft's profile. The rear fuselage accommodated a new (fourth) internal fuel tank. Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) came in the form of the TP-23 system and capability with the R-23 missile was brought online. The M-model brought with it true "lookdown/shoot-down" capabilities, allowing the aircraft to engage targets under the horizon. A new "Type 1" wing - this featuring extended leading edges - was introduced bringing the "dogtooth" look along the inboard wing area (the "Type 2" wing was a wing structure that did away with the leading-edge slats while the "Type 3" wing, beginning in 1973, brought these back into the fold). The MiG-23M was received by Frontal Aviation as replacement for their MiG-21 air superiority fighters with ground attack considered a secondary role. The M-model was also delivered to the PVO and worked alongside existing "Fitters", "Flagons" and "Fishbeds" in the air defense role.

The MiG-23MF became the simplified export derivative of the MiG-23M production form. To export customers, the MiG-23MF model proved more popular than the MiG-23MS (detailed below) and was therefore sold to many nations with differing radar and communication setups as dictated by each particular operator. Radar was the RP-22 series housed under the small radome.

The MiG-23M and MiG-23MF models were collectively codenamed as "Flogger-B" by NATO.

The MiG-23U was a two-seat trainer developed from the MiG-23S. Since the MiG-23 proved to be unlike any previous aircraft available to Soviet airmen, they would require a applicable mount to learn its intricacies. A requirement for the aircraft was put forth in May of 1968 some six months after the main production model was green-lighted. First flight came in May of 1969. It featured the two-seat tandem arrangement but a new Tumansky R-29 series engine was utilized. The instructor occupied the rear cockpit and both positions were separated from one another and housed under individual canopies. With the addition of the second cockpit, one forward internal fuel tank was removed but a new one was added in the aft portion of the fuselage. The aircraft featured the S-21 weapon system. During its tenure, many of these MiG-23U trainers had their radar systems removed while others were brought up to the new MiG-23M standard. Production began in 1971 but the MiG-23U was eventually replaced by the more-capable MiG-23UB trainers. The MiG023U retained some of its combat capabilities.

The MiG-23UB (prototype Model 23-51) was another MiG-23 trainer. While the MiG-23UB was relegated to flight and weapons training, it still retained some limited combat capabilities. These MiG-23s were identified by their twin separate cockpits, Type 3 wings (with non-swiveling underwing pylons) and a cone-like fairing along the starboard wingroot housing the AA-7 "Apex" missile illuminator pod. As the two cockpits were not "stepped" (one higher than the other), the rear instructor's rear position was fitted with a retractable periscope to afford him a better view of the forward action. Additionally, the instructor had a whole suite of pre-programmed situations to which he could field against the student pilot. Angle-of-Attack (AoA) was limited for safety reasons. Production ended in 1975 to which some 769 total examples were produced and widely distributed out of Irkutsk. Both MiG-23 and MiG-27 operators used the MiG-23UB trainer as a starting point for their Flogger pilots.

Both the MiG-23U and the MiG-23UB trainers were identified by NATO under the "Flogger-C" codename.

The MiG-23MS was a downgraded export variant of the MiG-23M production model. The product was sold with its S-21 weapon system intact though tied to an RP-22SM "Jay Bird" radar. Missile capability was restricted to the AA-2 "Atoll" and AA-8 "Aphid" missiles and this version lacked Beyond Visual Range capability. Production ran from 1973 into 1978.

The MiG-23MP was similar to the MiG-23MS but never exported and saw only limited production numbers within the Soviet Union.

The MiG-23MS and MiG-23MP were collectively codenamed as "Flogger-E" in NATO terminology.

The MiG-23ML (from prototype Model 23-12) was a redesigned MiG-23 to help combat the reports of airframe fatigue and stress being encountered by early Floggers while at the same time attention was put into improving handling at high angles of attack. Maneuverability was enhanced and promoted higher G-limits (now 8.5 from 8.0). The fourth rear internal fuel tank was deleted, aerodynamic refinements were instituted and the vertical tail fin was modified with no dorsal fin extension. All of these changes resulting in a lightened airframe. The undercarriage was further redesigned while a new Soyuz (Tumansky) R-35F-300 series powerplant of 28,660lbs thrust with afterburner was installed. The rectangular intake fitted variable ramps doubling as splitter plates that would counteract the slower-moving air near the fuselage.

Internally, the avionics suite was given a complete overhaul while communications systems and autopilot were improved. The radar was upgraded to the Sapfir-23ML system featuring a range of up to 56 miles (over the previous 37-mile limitation). Look-down and jamming capabilities were equally improved while the HUD (Heads-Up Display) served up the radar picture to the pilot - negating the need for the pilot to take his eyes off of the forward action in order to read his system. Standard armament remained the GSh-23L twin-barreled cannon system fitted inside of a GP-9 gun pack under the fuselage. In all, the changes brought about better performance and capability through a refined and lightened airframe. Top speed was Mach 2.35 (1,555 mph) at altitude with a climb rate of 50,000 feet-per-minute up to a service ceiling of 60,700 feet. Combat range was 970 nautical miles with a ferry range listed at 1,515 nautical miles.

1984 saw the development of the MiG-23UM as another two-seat trainer to follow in line with the MiG-23ML and MiG-23P platforms. Earlier MiG-23UB systems were upgraded to the new MiG-23UM standard and featured the Angle of Attack restriction to prevent stalls as well as the UUA-1 AoA indicator. Restrictive combat capabilities are still retained.

The MiG-23MF became another export derivative, though this one retaining much of its Soviet original equipment. The "High Lark" fire control radar was still in place and support for the AA-7 missile was standard. Deliveries were made to Warsaw Pact allies and (later) to Third World entities Angola, India, Iraq, Libya and Syria.

The MiG-23P was similar to the improved MiG-23ML and produced from the Model 23-14 prototype. It was essentially a modified - yet dedicated - interceptor for the PVO, fitting an improved Sapfir-23P series radar as well as an improved avionics and a new digital computer for interacting with ground control. The MiG-23P could better make use of ground-based navigation, bringing the aircraft to the interception point automatically while allowing the pilot a lightened workload and freedom to concentrate on weapons delivery and engine control. Cues could be delivered to the pilot as to when to ignite afterburner or release his weaponry.

The MiG-23bis brought back the Infra-Red Scan and Tracking system as well as a new, more informative HUD (Head-Up Display).

The MiG-23MLA was a later production variant of the MiG-23ML. The Electronic Countermeasures suite was improved as was the radar system. A new gunsight was installed. Production ran from 1978 to 1982 and produced some 1,000 examples. The MLA-model was delivered to Warsaw Pact nations and Third World entities in varying, yet simplified, forms.

The second generation MiG-23MF, MiG-23P, MiG-23bis and the MiG-23MLA were all categorized under the NATO codename of "Flogger-G".

The MiG-23MLD (model 23-18) was the definitive fighter form of the MiG-23 production line and became the final single-seat MiG-23s produced (reportedly converted from existing MiG-23MLs). Much attention was paid into improve combat handling. Close-in fighting was improved as were avionics, general pilot safety and the Sapfir-23MLA-II radar. Vortex generators was added to the wingroots and nose probe while leading edge root notches were incorporated to the wings. Countermeasures were addressed by the installation of chaff/flare dispensers along the rear upper fuselage. Countermeasures were further linked to a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) for enemy missile protection. The AA-11 "Archer" short-range missile became a new Soviet staple and increased the MiG-23s lethality as a fighter to an extent. The underwing pylons were redesigned to swivel in an effort to maintain optimal airflow during wing sweep processes at speed.

Interestingly, no new-build MiG-23MLD models were ordered for the Soviet Air Force. Instead conversions of some 560 existing MiG-23MLs were made. Deliveries occurred from 1982 through 1985. As with other new variants, the MLD was offered to Warsaw Pact and Third World customers in simplified forms - these interestingly were in fact new-build models. Production of the MiG-23MLD ended in 1984.

The MiG-23MLD became the "Flogger-K" codename in NATO lore.

Fighter-Bomber MiG-23 Floggers

The MiG-23 "Flogger" was developed into capable ground attack forms falling under the NATO codenames of "Flogger-F" and "Flogger-H".

"Flogger-F" was a fighter-bomber made up of the MiG-23B which was itself developed from the Mikoyan-Gurevich 32-24 prototype (of which three were ultimately produced) and still further related in origin to the MiG-23S. The straight-line speed, robustness and relatively cheap cost of the MiG-23 fighter made it an ideal candidate for conversion into a fighter-bomber. By 1969, a movement began to develop the MiG-23 as such and first flight was achieved on August 20th, 1970, with an airframe sporting an all-new forward fuselage and improvements made to the cockpit to compensate for the dangers inherent in low-altitude flying. The nose cone was revised to provide better forward and downward visibility while cockpit seat was raised. The windscreen was armored along with the cockpit sides and fuel tanks were made fire resistant through an inert gas-injection fire protection system. The radar system of her interceptor counterparts was removed and replaced by the PrNK Sokol-23S series navigation/attack suite comprised of the PBK-3 bomb sight and a built-in laser rangefinder. The navigation suite was further improved as was the all-important autopilot feature. The wingroot gloves were affixed with leading edge fairings housing a TV camera and a missile illuminator (initially introduced in the upcoming MiG-23BN but fielded in the MiG-23B first). Weapons loadout was appropriately increased for the new role and the suitable Lyulka (Lyul'ka) AL-21F-300 turbofan engine was fitted into a shortened rear fuselage. The MiG-23B was initially fitted with the Type 2 wing but later updated with the Type 3 wing. Despite the upgrades, production was limited to a small 24 examples spanning 1971 to 1972 as a new and improved variant became available (this being the MiG-23BN). The MiG-23B was not exported like previous MiG-23s were.

The MiG-23BN (32-23) was based on the MiG-23B and fitted with the less-powerful Soyuz (Tumansky) R-29B-300 series engine and an upgraded PrNK Sokol 23N navigation/attack system. Actually intended as the first strike version in the series, the MiG-23BN would have to wait for inception into service as its expected engine and internal systems faced developmental delays. Export totals of the BN-model were good and the type formed the definitive ground-attack form of the MiG-23 fighter line until replaced by the MiG-27. Some 624 examples appeared from 1973 to 1985.

The MiG-23BN fell under the NATO "Flogger-H" designation.

However, both the MiG-23B and the MiG-23BN proved somewhat inferior once in service. As such, Mikoyan-Gurevich looked to improve both types and gave life to the MiG-23BK (Model 32-26) and the MiG-23BM (Model 32-25). Both of these new aircraft became direct upgrades to the previous two offerings with some existing models converted to these standards while others were simply exported for logistics sake.

The MiG-23BK fitted the same PrNK-23 navigation/attack system as found on the MiG-27K along with laser rangefinder and improved avionics. The aircraft was only made available for export to Warsaw Pact nations. The MiG-23BM was of a similar design but incorporated the Sokol PrNK-23M navigation/attack system of the MiG-27D as well as its own improved avionics. The changes lengthened the service lives of these two aircraft and made them viable strike fighters.

Both aircraft shared the NATO codename of "Flogger-H".

The MiG-23BM "Experimental" was devised as a truly dedicated strike aircraft, doing away with much of the MiG-23's fighter origins. This development eventually graduated to become the successful line of MiG-27 Floggers detailed elsewhere on this site.

Floggers in Afghanistan

The Flogger was fielded in the Soviet-Afghanistan War of the 1980s. As the Afghan forces lacked any sort of viable air force, the MiG-23 was utilized heavily in the ground-attack role. These Floggers were therefore equipped with chaff/flare dispensers to combat the growing number of shoulder-launched, infra-red, American-made Stinger missiles being fielded by rebel forces. The fighting eventually spilled over into portions of Pakistan where MiG-23s were engaged by Pakistani F-16 Fighting Falcons. At least two MiG-23s were credited as downed by the Pakistani Air Force in the ensuing action.

Flogger Sacrifice

Colonel Anatolij Levchenko achieved the highest Soviet title of "Hero of the Soviet Union" when he lost his life in actions during the Soviet-Afghanistan War. Having received detrimental direct hits from AAA (Anti-Aircraft Artillery) ground fire during an attack run against enemy targets at Salang Pass, his damaged plane refused to allow him to eject. Seemingly knowing his situation was dire, Levchenko pointed his damaged aircraft at the AAA installation and plowed the emplacement at full speed, subsequently destroying it and its surprised operators at the cost of his own life.

Additional Actions

The MiG-23 was fielded by Syria in the 1982 war in Lebanon to which Israeli F-15 Eagles maintained the advantage. Iraq utilized the type against Iran in their bloody war from 1980 to 1988. Likewise, Iraq brought the MiG-23 out to play once again in the lopsided Gulf War of 1991. Iraq fielded the MiG-23 once more in actions encompassing Operation Desert Fox in 1998. American F-14 Tomcats successfully destroyed Libyan MiG-23s on camera in a much publicized engagement.


The MiG-23 has been retired from Soviet/Russian service since 1994 though large stockpiles remain in storage. Fewer and fewer operators of the MiG-23 remain to date with places like Turkmenistan (230), Syria (146) and Libya (130) maintaining large collections in operational service. Indian MiG-23BN models of the IAF were officially retired on March 6th, 2009, completing nearly 30 years of service to the nation. Many of the currently flyable MiG-23s are MiG-23ML, MiG-23MLD, MiG-23MF and MiG-23MF fighter types. About a quarter are then made up of the MiG-23BN fighter-bomber forms and the rest are MiG-23UB trainers. It is expected that the MiG-23 airframe and available weapon systems will be of use to their respective operators up until 2015

The Flogger was replaced in the fighter and strike aircraft roles for Russia by the much-improved Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 "Fulcrum".

Specifications for the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 (Flogger) Interceptor Aircraft / Fighter

Country of Origin: Soviet Union
Manufacturer: Mikoyan-Gurevich - Soviet Union
Initial Year of Service: 1970
Production: 5,047

Focus Model: Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23MF (Flogger-B)
Crew: 1

Length: 55.12ft (16.8m)
Width: 46.75ft (14.25m)
Height: 14.27ft (4.35m)
Weight (Empty): 24,912lbs (11,300kg)
Weight (MTOW): 40,786lbs (18,500kg)

Powerplant: 1 x Soyuz (Tumansky) R-29 turbojet engine generating 27,550lbs of thrust.

Maximum Speed: 1,553mph (2,500kmh; 1,350kts)
Maximum Range: 808miles (1,300km)
Service Ceiling: 61,024ft (18,600m; 11.6miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 50,000 feet per minute (15,240m/min)

Hardpoints: 6
Armament Suite:
1 x 23mm Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-23L twin-barrel 23mm cannon in a GP-9 gun pod under the fuselage (200 rounds).

As a multi-role fighter, the MiG-23 can be called upon to field a variety of ordnance including:

Ye-231 (Flogger-A) / Model 23-11 - Prototype Designation

MiG-23 (Flogger-A) - Pre-Production Designation; sans hardpoints; "sawtooth" wing leading edge; 1 x dual-barreled 23mm NSh-23 cannon.

MiG-23S (Flogger-A) - Pre- Production Model for evaluation and testing as well as first production model of note; fitted with improved Tumansky R-27F2-300 turbojet engine; S-21 weapon system with RP-22SM radar; 60 examples produced between 1969 and 1970.

MiG-23SM (Flogger-A) / MiG-23 Type 1971 - Improved Pre-Production Model; S-23 weapons suite with Sapfir-23L radar; AA-7 "Apex" missile capability; increased wing area; revised sawtooth leading wing edge' wings sans slats; increased wing sweep and revised sweep degrees; tail fin relocated further aft; extra internal fuel tank added for increased range; 80 examples produced.

MiG-23M (Flogger-B) - Initial Mass-Production Model; first flight in June of 1972; leading edge wing slats; Fitted with R-29-300 (R-29A) series engine; Sapfir-23D "High Lark" radar system; TP-23 Infra-Red Search and Track (IRST) system; ASP-23D gunsight; Lasur-SMA datalink; AA-7 "Apex" and AA-8 "Aphid" missile capability; double-pylons appearing from 1974 onwards; some ground attack capability; nuclear capable; 1,300 examples produced.

MiG-23MF (Flogger-B) - Export Version of MiG-23M; Warsaw Pact and Third World sub-variants; Third World variant with downgraded radar and sans electronic countermeasures.

MiG-23U (Flogger-C) - Twin-Seat Trainer; based on the MiG-23MS export variant; lengthened cockpit area; deletion of one forward internal fuel tank while adding a new rear internal fuel tank; S-21 weapon system; later upgraded to MiG-23M standard.

MiG-23UB (Flogger-C) - Twin-Seat Trainer; similar to MiG-23U; R-29 engine; produced until 1985; 769 production examples with conversions from MiG-23U as well.

MiG-23MP (Flogger-E) - Similar to MiG-23M but more close to the MiG-23MS; never exported; limited production total.

MiG-23MS (Flogger-E) - Export Variant; based on the MiG-23M; based on the MiG-23M production model; S-21 weapon system; RP-22SM "Jay Bird" radar; smaller nose cone; sans Infra-Red Search and Track and Beyond Visual Range capability; limited to AA-2a "Atoll", AA-2d "Atoll" and AA-8 "Aphid" missiles; simplified avionics suite; production between 1973 and 1978.

MiG-23P (Flogger-G) - Air Defense Interceptor; similar to MiG-23L; improved avionics suite; Sapfir-23P radar system; sans Infra-red Search and Track; new digital computer for autopilot; Lasur-M datalink; Ground Control Interception-capable; 500 examples produced from 1978 to 1981; never exported.

MiG-23bis (Flogger-G) - Similar to MiG-23P; IRST brought back; new HUD.

MiG-23ML (Flogger-G) - Improved Flogger; redesigned airframe; lighter overall weight; deletion of rear internal fuel tank; aerodynamic refinements; sans dorsal fin extension; redesigned undercarriage; 8.5 G-limit; fitted with R-35F-300 series engine; improved thrust-to-weight ratio; improved avionics suite and autopilot; revised navigation suite; new datalink and radio system; first flight in 1976 with production beginning in 1978.

MiG-23MLA (Flogger-G) - Similar to MiG-23ML production model' improved ECM and radar systems; new ASP-17ML HUD and gunsight; capability for improved AA-7 "Apex" missiles; 1,100 examples produced for Soviet Union, Warsaw Pact nations and Third World export customers.

MiG-23MLD (Flogger-K) - Definitive MiG-23 fighter variant; vortex generators added to pitot boom and wing leading edges; improved avionics; Sapfir-23MLA-II radar system; SPO-15L radar warning receiver; chaff/flare dispensers on upper rear fuselage; capability for AA-11 "Archer" missiles; 560 conversions from 1982 to 1985; Warsaw and Third World exports were new-builds; production ceased in 1984.

MiG-23B (Flogger-F) -Fighter-Bomber Variant; first prototype flight on August 20th, 1970; redesigned forward fuselage; raised pilot seat; cockpit armoring; fire-proof fuel tanks; sans radar system; Sokol-23 ground attack sight system; laser rangefinder; PBK-3 bombsight; improved autopilot and navigation suite; increased ordnance load; electronic warfare suite; AL-21F-3 turbofan engine; limited production of 24 examples from 1971 to 1972.

MiG-23BK (Flogger-H) - Fighter-Bomber Variant; export model for Warsaw Pact countries; PrNK-23 navigation and attack system; intake-mounted radar warning receivers.

MiG-23BM (Flogger-H) - Fighter-Bomber Variant; upgraded MiG-23BK models; PrNK-23M system; digital computer.

MiG-23M (Flogger-H) - Revised Ground Strike Variant; ultimately becoming the MiG-27 dedicated ground strike variant.

MiG-23BN (Flogger-H) - Fighter-Bomber Variant; similar to MiG-23B production model; R-29-300 series engines; Type 3 wing; revised electronics; production from 1973 into 1985; 624 examples produced.

MiG-27 (Flogger) - Dedicated Ground Attack Version of the MiG-23.

MiG-23R - Proposed Reconnaissance Variant; never produced.

MiG-23MLGD - Further Upgrade; revised equipment and radar.

MiG-23MLG - Further Upgrade; revised equipment and radar.

MiG-23MLS - Further Upgrade; revised equipment and radar.

MiG-23K - Carrierborne Variant; based on the MiG-23ML; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23A - Multi-Role Variant; based on the MiG-23K model; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23AI - Proposed MiG-23A sub-variant; improved dedicated fighter; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23AB - Proposed MiG-23A sub-variant; improved dedicated attack platform; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23AR - Proposed MiG-23A sub-variant; dedicated reconnaissance platform; eventually cancelled.

MiG-23MLK - Proposed design with 1 x R-100 or 2 x R-33 engines.

MiG-23MD - Fitted with Saphir-23MLA-2 radar; based on the MiG-23M model.

MiG-23ML-1 - Proposed re-engined Flogger; 1 x R-100 or R-69F engine or 2 x R-33 engine.

MiG-23-98 - Proposed upgraded Flogger; new radar and defensive systems; revised cockpit; new avionics suite; helmet-mounted sight; AA-10 "Alamo" capability.

MiG-23-98-2 - Proposed radar upgrade to existing Floggers.

Operators: Afghanistan; Armenia; Algeria; Angola; Belarus; Bulgaria; China; Cuba; Czech Republic; Czechoslovakia; East Germany; Egypt; Ethiopia; Georgia; Hungary; India; Iran; Iraq; Israel; Ivory Coast; Kazakhstan; Libya; North Korea; Poland; Romania; Russia; Soviet Union; Sri Lanka; Sudan; Syria; Turkmenistan; Ukraine; United States; Yemen; Yugoslavia; Vietnam; Zimbabwe; Namibia.

Rare Videos of MiG-23:


Why Cold War Warsaw Pact Tactics Work In Wargaming by John Curry

I have played more Cold War Warsaw Pact games versus NATO than most, at least in terms of the number of different rule sets I have used. This has included the many civilian wargame rules such as WRG modern warfare rules and Tim Gow's NATO Brigade Commander, but I have also played professional military games such as 'Contact!' (Canadian Wargame rules, 1980), Dunn Kemp (1978-, American), Battlegroup Trainer (UK Army) and games with BAE Systems Ltd. While playing these games, I have noted one major trend , I have never lost playing the Warsaw Pact side. Whether playing with 1/35 scale tanks on Knuston lawn to traditional wargames on the tabletop, to games played in 1/300 scale on the floor of a WWII aircraft hanger, my 'side' has won. Some of these game were using rules of my own devising, but the majority were rules written by others, including operational analysis establishments. This article is about why Russian Tactics seem to work in wargaming.
For the purposes of this article, I have used the terms Russia, Soviet and Warsaw Pact with reference to tactics as interchangeable.
Russian Tactics 'The tactics were based on the Russian experience on the Eastern front during World War II; where very similar tactics successfully overcame problems of largely inferior technology, motivation, a multitude of languages and a frequently illiterate army to beat the Germans back to the gates of Berlin.
In the West, it has become common to deride Soviet style tactics as inferior and second rate. This is incorrect; Soviet tactics were different as the Soviet commanders had to solve very different tactical problems than those faced by the technology based NATO armies. ' (Curry, 2008[1] )
In NATO flexibility, was seen as essential part of junior commanders training in direct contract to the more rigid Soviet system. NATO tactics were more a system of principles, that junior ranks would learn to apply in innovative ways on the battlefield. For example, Mass, concentration, economy of force, all round defence etc… and a series of battle drills as the basis for commanders developing their own tactics.
An example of a good NATO tactic against an enemy advance is for NATO tanks to find positions where they can fire 1 shot at the attackers and then reverse quickly into cover. i.e. before the enemy can locate them and return fire. The NATO tanks then retreat out of sight to another prepared position. Using this tactic on the table top can allow the defender to get the majority of their tanks to fire 5 or 6 shots while retreating, say 2/3rds of the way down the table. At this point the tanks should combine with the dug in infantry to fight the main battle on the defenders chosen ground. This tactic works well on a wargaming table covered with a realistic amount of scenery to obstruct the line of sight.
The only problem is that just like real life, it takes the wargamer time to learn and practise NATO type tactics.
By contrast, Russian tactics are straightforward and can be learnt in an afternoon by reading a good book on their tactics. My suspicion is that given two novice wargamers, the novice commanding the Russian side would win as their tactics are easier to learn.
Concentration Many years ago, I learnt the value of concentration in wargaming while playing a fantasy wargame. The enemy dragon was coming and it was the most deadly potential weapon on the Middle Earth battlefield. My solution was to concentrate the fire of every single archer on my side against this single target. Even at long odds, the sheer number of attacking dice brought down this potential battle wining dragon before it could cause significant damage.
Russian tactics are excellent at encouraging concentration of fire. Russians units had less artillery observers than western counter-parts, which encouraged Russian divisional commanders to use the maximum of artillery when a target was identified. Russian tactics are very clear about the value of positioning forces so the maximum number can engage the enemy at the same time.
Close to Contact Some Soviet weapons were largely inferior (perhaps at 2/3rds of the effectiveness of western weapons), in particular at long range. Their method of counter acting this was aiming to keep the advance moving in column until hit by effective enemy fire (e.g. first tank is blown up), then spend a minute forming into line abreast, followed by a charge.
If a company was engaged at the range of a mile, then it would aim to be on the enemy position in three minutes if it was in column (i.e. not expecting to be hit by effective fire) or 2 minutes if already formed for an advance to contact. Russian units do not fire and manoeuvre at below company level (at least while in a mechanised battle). The second company would aim to be on the enemy position as soon as the tactical situation permitted e.g. 2-3 minute after the first company has reached the enemy position. On the battlefield it meant that defending enemy anti-tank guided missile launchers would get perhaps 2 missiles off, and hand held anti-tank weapons perhaps 1 or 2 before the battle was fought at point blank range.
On the wargaming table, the rapid 'close to contact' minimises the NATO advantage in weaponry. Advantages, such as superior NATO weapon sights, matter little if tanks and AFVs are firing at targets at less than 200 metres.
Morale By this I am referring to the morale of the actual players, not the simulated troops on the table top. The correct application of Russian tactics can undermine the morale of opponents. I first noticed this at a free kriegspiel invasion of the Isle of Wight, where as a Russian advisor I planned the invasion force to arrive in the same order as the order of march of a Soviet regiment. It took me 15 minutes to produce the shipping and logistic plan based on Soviet doctrine. Apparently, the other HQ found it most off putting for their opponents to plan so quickly and then be so confident as to sit around drinking beer for the next two hours. As the game proceeded, the other HQ was 'psyched' out by the speed of the decision making within the Russian HQ.
Whether playing alternate or simultaneous moves, after the initial plan, it normally takes moments for the Russians to move all of forces compared to the NATO side. While NATO is planning the position of each smallest unit, the Russians simply decide the correct Axis of advance and then all the armour lines up behind the lead vehicle. It can be very disconcerting for a player to find their opponent finishes their move in a fraction of the time they need. To work, NATO tactics take more time and effort to apply on the table top, just as they do in real life. The combination of speed, concentration of armour and artillery support and sheer numbers, seems to undermine the other players.

Modern Misconceptions various Arab armies have used Russian taught tactics, with Russian equipment, and lost, such as in the Arab Israel wars or the first Gulf War. In the first Gulf War, Coalition tanks were immune to Iraq tank guns, even at short range.
As reported by James Dunnigan in his Book 'How to Make War', the Iraq's economised by using cheaply produced local tank shells, instead of the expensive high cost Russian kit. A tank shell is 60% of a modern main battle tank and the Russian equivalent of an American depleted Uranium tank round would have penetrated Western armour at 1-2km. The western military use PC based, training tools for tank crews; some ignorant people criticise the tool developers for not making the Western tanks immune to enemy fire (as they were largely in the 1st Gulf War). This criticism is not justified as it should be assumed that an enemy might have bought a consignment of modern tank shells, anti-tank guided missiles etc. from Russia or China. Therefore, suggesting that a main battle tank is practically immune to enemy fire might teach a very wrong lesson to their crews.
Arab tactics differ from Soviet tactics significantly. Tactics of Soviet Ground Forces, (Army Code 71031, Restricted, 1975, page v) states 'differences between Soviet Tactics and those reported as used by Arabs. Although the latter had Soviet equipment and advisors, it does not follow that Arab tactics were intended to be carbon copies of Soviet tactics, and in many cases they were clearly not.' Soviet advisors were reportedly frustrated by Arab armies not applying what they were taught. The Soviet view was their tactics were designed for a poorly trained, illiterate army with communication problems, using Soviet kit, and the Arabs were wrong not to apply them straight out of the training manuals. The Soviet studied military history more thoroughly than any modern army and to suggest that the result of this work was to produce tactics that did not work is a misconception. They are different from NATO tactics as they had different problems to overcome. The fact the Arabs failed to apply the tactics as taught is a reflection on the military and society culture in those countries.
Example 1: The scene was set in a WWII aircraft hanger used by BAE Systems limited for some experiments on situational awareness on the modern battlefield. The game was played over a 1/300 scale model, representing a portion of West Germany near the 'Hof Gap', that was large enough to be walked on.
The scenario had been played 80 times before, as repetition was necessary to produce valid data. I was on the attacking team against staff who had knew the rules, terrain and the scenario inside out (and back to front). What the staff did not realise was that all of the attacking team had commanded 'Orange forces' at various levels during NATO exercises. We were Russians and we intended to act like them.
The terrain analysis was simple. A stream ran across our front, overlooked by high ground on the other side. There was a town to the left as we faced our axis of advance and in the far distance (15k) was a larger river, with a few crossing points dominated by a few hills. There were an appropriate number of woods, farms, roads and tracks.
Our plan was simple, we would advance on three axis, with a reserve behind. Which ever axis broke through first would become the main axis of advance and all support would be shifted to that axis. We took approximately 10 minutes to make our plan, which caused much amusement to the other side. They expected us to spend 2 hours discussing phased lines of advance, artillery targets, giving detailed orders etc…
The battle started with an artillery/ rocket/ mortar barrage reminiscent of the Somme. While NATO armies might carefully recce enemy positions or rely of calling in supporting fire as targets were required, we were a Russian army and we had little confidence in getting the necessary support quickly. We simply identified any likely positions overlooking the stream and hit them hard with a pre-prepared fire plan.
There could have been minefields to our front, but Russian doctrine was to advance as if they were not there. So the NATO defenders were a little surprised as there was no tentative recce, no checking for minefields but mechanised companies advancing at maximum speed on three axis. This ruined their plan of taking time to identify our main thrust and counter-attacking it.
As we entered the town on our left, it became obvious that the town was well defended. So, in line with Russian doctrine (Towns should be bypassed), infantry were debussed to engage in FIBUA, while the main column identified a gap in the defences, one street wide, and the battalion went straight through the town and out the other side… the defenders were shocked at being bypassed and their commander had what can only be described as 'command paralysis'.
The NATO counter-attack hit our centre axis of advance. Our centre axis ground to a halt. rather than reinforce failure, the reserves switched to follow another axis. The divisional artillery support also switched to the other two successful axis.
Our advance was difficult to halt, as every time a main road was blocked, the advance switched to the next adjacent road. Russian policy was any road heading west would do (as they come from a country of poor roads).
At every possible opportunity, the Russian advance switched back to column formation for maximum speed. The speed reduced NATO support, as their mortar/ artillery positions had to move as they felt threatened by the speed of our advance.
The other side started to panic as the situation was changing too quickly and we seemed to be playing by different rules to what they were used to. I knew we were winning when an umpire tried to warn me about potential ambushes and why my column should slow down (just in case).
The game ended with the right hand Russian axis occupying the high ground overlooking the crossing points the enemy needed to retreat over. It had a full division's worth of artillery to supplement its tank guns and anti-tank missiles. The scattered NATO forces had been bypassed and were out of supply and their retreat route was covered by direct enemy fire and artillery.
Example 2: Conference of Wargamers, July 2007
As the Iraq defenders of Kuwait Airfield, we were playing Tim Gow's NATO Brigade Commanders Rules. Historically, we were playing merely static targets for the American's to practise their gunnery. Under Mike Elliot's command, Bde commanders John Salt and I deployed just behind the ridge line well forward of the Kuwait Airport.
We were somewhat concerned by the clear superiority of the American kit. A lot of their kit was lightly armoured, but could easily destroy us at 3-4km range. Therefore we waited in our reverse slope positions (with some trepidation).
The first American's arrived and dropped straight down the valley between 2 companies of our tanks either side. Our somewhat surprised 4 companies of tanks opened up at 1 km at the soft skinned vehicles and upset them somewhat.
The Americans then retreated back down the valley while they brought up tanks in support. We were somewhat surprised to find they decided to reorganise just out of sight, but just 1 km away from us.
As per our plan, we then err… charged. We put a motor rifle battalion straight into the American column from the front, while our two companies of tanks took up firing positions either side of the enemy flanks. Of course, we took huge casualties, but our waves of attacks finally rolled up the American battalion. When the first motor rifle battalion was destroyed, we sent in the next. We even threw our recce vehicles and the Bde HQ into the battle.
On the other flank, the American tanks finally arrived and although we hit the American soft skinned vehicles who were first around the corner of the hills, we had to withdraw behind the nearest build up area to avoid destruction in a long range gunnery duel in the open.
At the end of the game our heavily attrited division was reorganising at the Bagdad Airport, with the surviving American's occupying the ridges overlooking the airfield.
The rules work well and reflected the outcome I would have expected using other sets of wargaming rules. American kit is awesome, but you must keep your distance. A lot of the vehicles are lightly armoured. Never let Russian style armies get within 1 km of you. They will use the one tactic they have perfected, the charge. At point- blank range, Western armies technological superiority is less of an advantage. Poor tactics can make even the best army in the world loose.
Wargaming and Warsaw Pact Tactics Russian tactics seem to work as they are simple to learn, encourage concentration of firepower and the speed of their application can be most off putting to the other side. For me, applying Russian mechanised tactics has worked on the table top to the extent that I have never lost a game as the Russians. The big question is would they have worked if the Cold War had turned hot on the Central Front in Europe?
[1] Curry John (editor) 2008 Contact! The Canadian Army Tactical Wargaming Rules (1980)

Source: http://www.wargaming.co/rules/dunnkempf/articles/whyrussiantactics.htm