Helion's MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East

Author/Artists: Tom Cooper


Helion  Publishing


$29.95 MSRP from Casemate


Scott Van Aken

Notes: 88 pages, softcover, around 150 images
ISBN 978-1-912390-32-8

Books about the military of middle eastern air arms are few and far between. Several reasons for this is the difficulty of obtaining information and another is a lack of photographs. This is due to the secretive and often paranoid stance of the regimes involved. However, it is not impossible and this book is proof that good research can not only provide a viable volume, but also provide a look at the 'other side' and perhaps dispel some myths in the process.

The book starts off with the aircraft in question. The MiG-23 was an aircraft that was designed as a ground controlled interceptor. Its pilots were not chosen for initiative, but their ability to take off and land as well as follow instructions once in the air. That is the way the Soviets treated air defense. The aircraft needed ground control to be effective.

While the MiG-21 was a fairly good point interceptor, a plane with more speed and range was required. This is where the MiG-23 came into being. Its need was seen as great so, not surprisingly, it was rushed into production before the bugs had been worked out of the aircraft and its systems. This resulted in what was a fairly dangerous aircraft to fly. Indeed, it required a pilot of some skill to properly operate. So it was hurriedly assigned to various Soviet air defense squadrons to combat an air invasion that never came.

During this time, the Soviets had been selling equipment to various middle east nations, mainly because they offered the aircraft and radars on the cheap and they were needed. However, the Soviets rarely sold the 'good stuff' and generally provided near obsolescent systems and equipment. Indeed, sometimes they delivered 'used' aircraft when the contracts called for new build planes. In addition, Soviet training was substandard, providing students with little more than the ability to take off, fly around a bit, and land. Certainly nothing to help them deal with real world threats.

It is understandable that the militaries of Egypt, Syria, Lybia, Iraq and others were frequently at odds with the Soviets and the 'trainers' sent to help form the needed air defense. Indeed, it was found that frequently, pilots got better training from their own military than the Soviets.

You now have a very good background on what is in this book. It covers the operations of the MiG-23 as well as the convoluted process of obtaining the aircraft and getting men trained. The aircraft was built in three 'generations', each with improvements. The book is divided into these generations and provides details on how various nations dealt with these aircraft. Then its use in conflict is detailed as well as the eventual fate of the MiG-23 in each of these air arms.

It makes for a fascinating look into something few of us truly consider and is a great read in and of itself. Well worth picking up.

October 2018

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Review book courtesy of  Casemate Publishing, where you can order your copy at this link.

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