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MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East War

MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East War Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review October 2018 Title MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East War
Author Tom Cooper Publisher Helion
Published 2018 ISBN 9781912390328
Format 80 pages, softbound MSRP (USD) $29.95

Review

In a superb study replete with revelations, Tom Cooper distills and dissects the MiG-23 Flogger in the Middle East – twelfth in Helion's outstanding "Middle East@War" series.

Coverage commences with an excellent précis of the MiG-23's troublesome gestation – and impacts of the immature design on Arab air forces.

Cooper significantly notes that, for most of their operational service in the Middle East, Floggers fought "without the support of the automated tactical management system and the [integrated air defense system] within which it was designed and equipped to be operated".

Multiple generations of MiG-23s nevertheless saw decades of combat service, as the subtitle notes, "in Algeria, Egypt, Iraq, Libya and Syria, 1973-2018". And the book subsequently surveys both Flogger design developments and their use by Middle East recipients.

Early examples proved operational and maintenance headaches. Each of Flogger's three preset wing positions, for instance, endowed the warplane with distinct flight characteristics.

"'It was like flying three different aircraft'," a Libyan pilot recalled, branding it "'dangerous to fly for our inexperienced pilots'."

Later export Floggers introduced radar, armament, airframe, and wing-sweep enhancements. But these failed to reverse the type's "tarnished reputation" – "or even change the fate of some of their customers". Shabby Soviet treatment of Middle East customers simply compounded problems.

In Arab hands, MiG-23s saw, at best, only modest success during the Iran-Iraq war, in Libyan border actions, and over Lebanon in the 1980s. Even the rare downing of an IRIAF F-14A proved a "mistake"!

Still, Floggers eventually evolved into popular, reliable warplanes by the 1990s. But the Soviet Union's collapse ended MiG-23 production and development. And Cooper succinctly surveys the twilight of use by Algeria, Iraq, Libya, and Syria – the last of which will probably see the end of Flogger's Mid-East service saga.

The copiously illustrated chronicle features dozens of photos. Fourteen color profiles by author Cooper sample the swath of Arab MiG-23 warpaint. And extended captions, action accounts, maps, and bibliographic notes further season the admirably annotated study.

Nitpicks?

Modelers value Helion's "@ War" titles as accurate, reliable color references. So why no starboard and top views of the "standardize" camouflage pattern for export Floggers to the Middle East? Even smaller scale insets would help.

I also think that "Da'awa" Party should be transliterated "Da'wah". With details displaying only minor tonal variations, Harpia's grayscale maps proved difficult to discern. And that looks like 2666 – not 2661 – on the upper left MiG-23 photo, page 66.

But I quibble.

Few illumine the region's multi-dimensional military, political, and economic issues – and their impacts on weapons procurement and performance – with author Cooper's coruscating competency and clarity.

Interested in Middle East conflicts? Grab his intensely informative page-turner.

Robustly recommended!

My sincere thanks to Casemate Publishing for this review sample!

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