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As the best known product from the OKB MiG construction bureau, the MiG-21 Fishbed, was developed into the most capable PF version Fishbed D, the bureau became aware that designing an entirely new aircraft with higher performance would be a formidable task. Combining high performance with good maneuverability and good short field takeoff and landing was considered particularly difficult.

At that time two types of wing were used to attain supersonic speeds, delta and sharply swept. The former was used on the Mirage III, MiG-21, Su-9/lS, F-102 and F-106, while the latter planform appeared on the MiG-19, Su-7, BAC Lightning, F-100, F-101 and F-105. All these designs were characterised by long takeoff and landing distances and high approach speeds demanding large angles of attack. At that time radar and electronic equipment was heavy, and engines were inefficient demanding large fuel capacity. Developing an all weather fighter from a day fighter involved installation of high performance radar and a capacity to carry long range ait-to-air missiles. Additionally, in this role greater range is demanded. All of these changes result in weight increases which were reflected in performance penalties.

Several solutions to these problems were proposed including wing with more sophisticated high lift devices and angles of sweep as sharp as 60 (e. g. Mirage F.l, F-4 Phantom II, and F-8). More exotic designs were tried including fuselage mounted dedicated lift engines (e.g. an experimental version of Mirage III). Finally the solution of variable swept wings was successfully adopted, with minimum sweep for takeoff and maximum for supersonic and transonic flight at low altitude. OKB MiG did improve the MiG-21 by installing SPS "blown" landing flaps, but the new Soviet AF High Command specification for a new generation fighter could not be met by an upgraded MiG-21.

The Mikoyan Design Bureau's activities became assigned by Council of Ministers' Decision dated 3 December 1963 works on development of front-line fighter of the next generation after MiG-21 having higher speed, extended range of flight and capable to base on aerodromes with runways of limited length. The aircraft had to be equipped with S-23 advanced armament control system which provided all-aspect new K-23 medium-range missile interception of air targets in free airspace and on earth background as well as close aerial combat with using of short-range missiles and aircraft cannon. Works on new fighter designing which got designation MiG-23 were carried out on two directions: installation of lift-engines on the airplane and using of variable-sweep wing.

Based on research by the TsAGI research institute, and probably from KGB intelligence reports, the designers led by A.I. Mikoyan and, later, his deputy R Belyakov, decided to design two fighters sharing as many components as possible but each exploring a different concept. The MiG-23PD was developed in parallel with the MiG-23S. The first was fitted with fuselage mounted lift engines and the second variable sweep wings. Unusual for the MiG bureau both designs featured side air intakes to allow for the installation of radar scanners of greater diameter. The tail appendages were almost identical. The MiG-23PD used a tailed delta configuration with lift engines in the forward fuselage, the MiG-23S had variable geometry wings.

In 1966 MiG-21PD (23-31) experimental aircraft was built on which RD36-35 lift engines were developed. Experience of building and factory tests became the basis for development of the first version of MiG-23 fighter - MiG-23PD (23-01) prototype aircraft with delta wing and two additional lift engines. Test pilot P.M. Ostapenko performed the maiden flight on 3 April 1967. Soon building of MiG-23 (23-11) prototype with variable-sweep wing was completed. The Design Bureau chef-pilot A.V. Fedotov took it aloft for the first flight on 10 June 1967. In the second flight he already tried the possibility to change wing geometry in all range of sweep angles from 160 to 720.

On 09 June 1967 the Design Bureau demonstrated both prototypes of aircraft in flight at Domodedovo Aviation Parade which was devoted to 50 Anniversary of the Great October Revolution. During tests designers chose MiG-23 with variable-sweep wing. The MiG-23S was preferred, and only one MiG-23PD was built.

Type MiG-23PD
Function fighter
Year 1967
Crew 1
Engines 1 * 7800kg Khachaturov R-27-300
2 * 2350kg Koliesov RD-36-35
Wing Span 7.72m
Length 16.80m
Height 5.15m
Wing Area 40.00m2
Empty Weight:
Max.Weight 18500kg
Armament 1*g23mm

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Page last modified: 03-10-2016 17:21:54 ZULU