MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East

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Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Tom Cooper
Other Publication Information
Soft Bound, 8.25” x 11.625”, 80 pages
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Company: Helion & Company - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Casemate Publishers - Website: Visit Site
Product Picture

Tom Cooper, born in Vienna, Austria, in 1970 is a military aviation historian that has focused on Post-WWII Middle Eastern air forces. Tom traveled extensively though his military service and subsequently in his transportation business. Through his travels, Tom Cooper has established contacts and identified sources that have permitted him to bring a unique look to Asian and African military aviation. Mr. Cooper has written more than 400 articles and has authored (or co-authored) over 25 books, including the excellent six-volume Arab MiGs series published by Harpia and distributed by Casemate. Aiming to deliver a complete picture, Tom is also an accomplished illustrator and color profiles are included in his books and articles. To find out more, check his Linked In page.

The front cover features a color photograph of a chief technician saluting the pilot before a 1974-training sortie. The MiG-23MS is one of eight aircraft operated from Marsa Matruh Air Base by the Egyptian Air Force’s No. 47 Squadron. The background in-flight MiG-23MS aircraft are depicted as photographed over the Gulf of Syria in February 1986. My guess is the upper in flight MiG-23MS is the same photo as the lower in-flight MiG-23MS with serial number 4711 on te nose. The color side profile is on a MiG-23ML serial number 2560 with two kill markings under the windscreen. You get 80 glossy pages graced by clear, well captioned, photographs. I counted 99 photographs (6 in color and 93 in black and white), 20 color side profiles by Tom Cooper, seven maps, and six tables. Many of the selected photographs are being published for the first time.

The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 ‘Flogger’ is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is a third-generation jet fighter, along with similar Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 "Foxbat" and Su-15 "Flagon". It was the first Soviet fighter to field a look-down/shoot-down radar and one of the first to be armed with beyond visual range missiles. First flight was achieved on June 10, 1967, with a total of 5,047 being built between 1967 and 1985. In addition to the Soviet Air Force and the Eastern Block countries, Arab customers pressed hard for this replacement to the MiG-21. Large numbers of MiG-23s were exported to the Middle East and Africa, serving with Algeria, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Ivory Coast, Libya, Namibia, Somalia, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. Today the MiG-23 remains in service in the Middle East and Africa, with Angola, Congo, Ethiopia, Libya, Sudan, and Syria. Tom Cooper focuses on the MiG-23’s operational service with the Algerian, Egyptian, Iraqi, and Syrian Air Forces. The MiG-23 saw heavy combat in several conflicts and even confronted US Navy’s F-14 Tomcats and the USAF’s F-15 Eagles. The Table of Contents include:

[Author’s] Note

  • Introduction and Acknowledgments
  • Glossary and Abbreviations
  • Chapter 1: A Hands-Off Interceptor
    • Evolution of Soviet Air Defense Systems
    • The Starfighter Threat
    • Requirement
    • Izdeliye-23
    • Wearisome Development
    • Egyptian Influence
    • Emergence of the Family
    • MiG-23 Variants Exported to the Middle East, 1973-2008 [Table]
    • Conclusions
  • Chapter 2: A Handful To Fly
    • The Spoiled Syrian Introduction
    • Syrian IADS
    • Civil War in Lebanon
    • A Short Stint in Egypt [Page 13]
    • Shock in Iraq
    • Trial and Error in Libya
    • Late in the Game: Algeria
    • Turbulent 1970s
    • Summary of MiG-23 Deliveries to Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, and Syria, 1973-1978 [Table]
  • Chapter 3: Second Generation
    • Enter the MiG-23MF
    • SyAAF MiG-23 Units, 1978-1982 [Table]
    • First Years of the Iran-Iraq War
    • Known IrAF MiG-23 Sorties of 22 September 1980 [Table]
    • Unlucky MiG-23s
    • Iraqi MiG-23BN Operations
    • Unknown Iraqi MiG-23MFs
    • Giraffes
    • Duels in the Air [Page 25]
    • Of Floggers and DC-9s
    • Against the US Navy
    • Return of the Soviets
    • ‘The Events’ in Syria of 1980-1982
    • Syrian Weaknesses
    • Lebanon, 1982
    • Color Profiles [Page 32c]
  • Chapter 4: Third Generation
    • Operation Kavkaz-2
    • R-24 for R-23
    • Recce Parties
    • Sudden Death
    • The Fall of Faw
    • A Kill by Mistake
    • Karbala-5
    • Iraqi Aerial Offensive
  • Chapter 5: Ultimate Tests
    • MiG-23MFs in Libya
    • The MiG-23MLD Farce [Page 42]
    • Attain Document II
    • The Best Dogfight Ever
    • The Night of the Boats
    • El Dorado Canyon: Air Strikes on Tripoli and Benghazi
    • From the Desert to the Mediterranean Sea
    • Final Clash: Air-Battle of the Bay of Bumbah
    • Algerians Coming of Age
    • Anticipating ‘Them’
    • Iraqi Modifications
    • The Kuwait Business
    • IrAF MiG-23 Units, 1990-1991 [Table] [Page 53]
    • Collapse of the Kari
  • Chapter 6: The Curtain Falls
    • The End in Algeria
    • The End in Iraq
    • In-Flight Refuelling
    • Dirty Game
    • Two Civil Wars
    • 20 Years of Vegetating
    • Syrian Civil War
    • Auto-Didacts to the Rescue
    • Deployment of Guided Missiles
    • Russian Come-Back
    • Into the Darkness
    • SyAAF MiG-23 Units, 2011-2018 [Table]
    • Closing Words
  • Bibliography
  • [Foot] Notes

I really enjoyed the first person accounts that Tom Cooper was able to uncover and spread liberally throughout the text. One example was Iraqi Captain Abdul Rahman al-Obeidi’s interception of Iranian RF-4Es in June of 1984. Scrambled with another MiG-23MF, he and his wingman were guided by ground control. Firing a R-24R missile, both pilots got ‘confirmed’ kills as they watched the missile detonate in a fireball and they watched the Phantom IIs spiral to the ground trailing smoke. The balance Tom Cooper brings is that both RF-4Es, while damaged, were able to limp home to base and be repaired.

This is a gorgeous softbound book and is well worth the price of entry. Tom Cooper provides a good military operational history of the MiG-23 in the Middle East with his in-depth research. I suspect the bulk of this material came to light after his earlier series on Arab MiGs. Many of the photographs are operational in nature and lack the clarity and detail to fill a large part of a page, but due to their rarity, they do support the text well. Tom Cooper’s color side profiles are a bonus with detailed descriptions and enlarged scrap views of the markings. I am definitely looking for the earlier editions, as well as the forthcoming tomes, in this new and affordable series of books from Casemate and Helion.

My thanks to Casemate Publishers and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!


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