The Soviet aircraft company Mikoyan-Gurevich began work on the MiG-23 in the early 1960s. The engineers at Mikoyan-Gurevich studied the American McDonnell F-4 Phantom II and General Dynamics F-111, and it isn’t difficult to see how those airplanes influenced the design of the MiG-23. It was the first Soviet jet with swing-wings to enable high speed flight as well as manageable takeoff and landing speeds. The first MiG-23 flew in 1967, and production aircraft entered service in 1970. The Soviet Union produced more than 5,000 of them over the next 18 years, and exported hundreds to their allies and client states.
Versions of the MiG-23 saw combat in Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Angola, Libya, Egypt, Chad, Ethiopia, Eritrea, India, Pakistan, and Sudan.
Several MiG 23s came to the United States in 1977, where they were flown and evaluated by American pilots as part of the secret “Constant Peg” program.
This particular MiG-23 was built in a factory about 40 miles north of Moscow and delivered to the Bulgarian Air Force on February 20, 1985. For the next 11 years the 2nd Squadron, 18th Regiment flew it from Gabrovnitsa Airbase. The Bulgarians used their MiG-23s strictly as air-to-air fighters, but they never saw any combat. After the fall of the Soviet Union and the dissolution of the Communist government, the airplane flew very little, and in 1998-99 the squadron disbanded, and the airplane moved by road to Dobroslavtsi. It made its last flight on October 3, 2001, and spent the next seven years parked outdoors.
American investors purchased several MiG-23s in 2007-2008, including this one. After shipment to northern Texas, it was stored outdoors until 2019, when Tom and Brenda Kalfas donated the MiG to Wings Over the Rockies. Our Restorations team is working to restore the airplane.
Wingspan: variable from 25 ft 6 in to 45 ft 10 in (7.8-14 m)
Length: 54 ft 9 in (16.7 m)
Maximum speed: Mach 2.35 (1,551 mph; 2,496 km/h at 40,000 feet)
Maximum weight: 39,242 lb (17,800 kg)
Thrust: 18,800 lbf (83.6 kN); 28,660 lbf (127.49 kN) with afterburner