Mikojan i Guriewicz MiG-23 UB - History

Published on: 2020-03-31
Updated on: 2020-03-31
Category: Airplanes
History Construction Tally

Kraków 2017-08-11

255 Section 1979-06-04

OKB Mikojan and Guriewicz MiG-23 UB


Two-seater combat aircraft.


MiG-23 MF nb 117. Dęblin 2017 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
MiG-23 MF nb 117. Dęblin 2017 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

MiG-23 MF nb 139. Dęblin 2017 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
MiG-23 MF nb 139. Dęblin 2017 year. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

For the first time with the MiG-23 aircraft, our politicians and military officers came across while looking for a successor to the IL-28 bomber aircraft. The last six bombers were removed from the state in 1979, but in fact for the entire decade they were no longer of any combat value. CCCP offered us MiG-23 BN or Su-20 aircraft. Both with variable wing geometry. According to Polish specialists, none of the aircraft offered did not meet our requirements, but there was no other alternative. The choice fell on the Su-20, as a cheaper machine and in a sense similar to the "dry" used so far. Ultimately, these were Su-22 M4 and two-seat Su-22 M3U aircraft.

The search for a new aircraft for WOPK (the country's air defense forces) was similarly difficult. Our eastern partner (then it was necessary to say - brother country) offered us a MiG-23 MS plane. This offer was not satisfactory to us anymore. They were weapons with MiG-21 bis weapons. They had no way of attacking at a meeting course. In addition, problems with the operation of these machines effectively discouraged the Polish side from this investment. The export display of the MiG-23 M version was constantly postponed. The MiG-23 MS aircraft was equipped with newer avionics and a large number of structural defects were removed. The resulting version was called MiG-23 MF and was offered to the Polish side. This time in May 1978, the proposal was approved and accepted.

At the same time, a decision was made to train the first group of pilots and technicians for a new type of fighter. The first of the three planned airborne regiments was 28 PLM stationed in Słupsk. However, before a group of Polish officers was selected for training in CCCP, the unit's staff from Słupsk, using the invitation of the Soviet 871 PLM stationed in Poland in Bagicz near Kołobrzeg, got acquainted with the aircraft and its capabilities. The Soviet pilots presented the MiG-23 M in flight, and the technicians had the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the airframe.    Opinions of the Polish side were different. On the one hand, there was talk of high machine failure rate and complicated operation. However, positive reviews prevailed. Much attention was paid to the variable geometry of the wings, which until now could only be seen in Powidz, where from 1974 to 1976 the conversion of the Su-20 fighter-bomber took place. Good take-off and landing parameters, high altitude and high maximum speed were optimistic about the MiG-23.

On January 29, 1979, a group of 13 pilots from 28 PLM and technicians under the command of lieutenant colonel pilot Janusz Dorżyński went on a three-month training to Ługawoje in CCCP. The pilots underwent a two-month theoretical training ended with an exam, after which they sat at the controls of the Soviet MiG-23 M / MS / MF / UB. The first flights showed very good flight properties. Rapid acceleration of the machine has been confirmed. The engine quickly and eagerly entered the revs. The plane was easy to fly. The performance and equipment of the MiG-23 did not resemble the fighters used so far in Poland. I mean MiG-21 up to and including the MF version. The MiG-23 was supposed to completely displace the first line of the MiG-21. On April 28, 1979, after passing the final exams, all staff returned to Poland.

By the way, it should be said that when the first MiG-23 was brought to Poland, they had been on the CCCP's armament for 9 years, and were also in the stock of African countries such as Sudan, Libya, and East Germany and Czechoslovakia in Europe.    Because Słupsk Airport was under renovation at that time, the planes were handed over in Minsk Mazowiecki. We received the first MiG-23 MF / UB on June 4, 1979 in the number of 11 pieces. MiG-23 MF nb 120, 121, 122, 139, 140, 141, 145, 146, 147, together 9 pieces, MiG-23 UB nb 845, 846 together 2 pieces. Factory pilots arrived. On the planes there were Soviet hallmarks (red stars), which were quickly washed away after landing. Technical acceptance took place and an official acceptance report was signed. Seven days later, on June 11, 1979, the first flights began under the guidance of 12 Soviet engineers. The first Polish pilots who sat behind the controls of the MiG-23 UB side No. 845 were the commander of 28 PLM Lt. Col. Pilot Janusz Dorżyński and Major Pilot Bogdan Sokołowski. On June 25, 1979, three more MiG-23 MF nb 148, 149, 150 arrived in Poland. At the end of 1979, the renovation of the Słupsk airport was completed, therefore, on January 4-7, 1980, owned 14 MiG-23 MF / UB was transferred from Mińsk Mazowiecki to Słupsk to Redzikowo. On January 14, 1980, training began at the home airport. From October 13, 1980, the regiment reached combat readiness and began regular combat duty.

Even before the next batch of aircraft was delivered to 28 PLM on May 25, 1981, as a result of the failure, the first MiG-23 MF nb 140 aircraft was lost, which was piloted by pilot captain Ryszard Drzymała. The plane approached from the west side of the runway. At the last moment he released the chassis, which unfortunately did not get stuck in the locks. It folded and broke at the time of the touchdown. The pilot released the braking parachute. The plane slowed down, scrubbing the belly on the runway. At the end she leaned on her right wing and slid down onto the grass. The pilot was not seriously injured. Damage to the machine turned out to be very serious and eventually it was overhauled. On April 26, 1985, this aircraft was handed over to COSSTWL in Oleśnica. With time, the plane began to be designated as nb 40, and years later after the dissolution of the center, the plane as a monument was transferred to the Radom-Sadków airport, and after the creation of the Air Force Museum in Dęblin it was transferred there.

On January 29, 1981, MiG-23 UB nb 850 flew to Słupsk. On September 2, 1981, MiG-23 nb 455, 456, 457, 458, 459 arrived, and on September 25, 1981, MiG-23 nb 460, 461 , 001, 005, 007, 010, 012. On October 19, 1981, two MiG-23 UBs were delivered.

The last aircraft were delivered in 1982. On June 26, 1982, the last sixth MiG-23 UB was delivered. On August 25, 1982, MiG-23 MF nb 062, 065, 101, 102, 105 was delivered, and on September 21, 1982, MiG-23 MF nb 021, 050,110,115, 117, 152, 153.

Deliveries of a total of 36 copies were completed in 1982. Polish MiG-23 MFs came from series 17 (originally they did not have the ability to carry NCR R-60), 20, 21 and 24. The aircraft received modernized APU-23 M 1 launchers. They served until 2000. In total, 6 MiG-23UB were purchased for training purposes.

As the organizational structures were improved, new equipment and armaments were introduced, the content of the regiment's training tasks changed, systematically verified in exercises, during which often actions were carried out simultaneously from two airports and the road section (DOL). Many times the regiment took part in exercises organized at the level of the Polish Army, and until 1989 in the exercises of the Warsaw Pact, cooperating with the CCCP and NAL GDR (National People's Army of the German Democratic Republic).

In 1988, friendly contacts with one of the Soviet units in Poland, supported by personal knowledge of both commanders, brought measurable results. By withdrawing the MiG-23 M aircraft by the end of 1989, the Soviets handed over to the Poles, as parts of the warehouse, three aircraft, with the numbers "19", "32", "46". The latter, after returning the soviet engine, armament and pilot's seat, was painted gray, typical for the unit, painted chessboards and the fictitious number "979" (the end of the year MiG-23 was put into service) placed in front of the officer's casino.

In the 90s, the basic tasks of the regiment did not change significantly. Safe flight training remained the priority, the result of which was verified by completed exercises, including annually since 1992 rocket shooting at the training ground in Ustka and exercises combined with landing on the airport road section (DOL). The craftsmanship of piloting the regiment on MiG-23 MF aircraft were presented in numerous air shows, including in 1991 at the Air Show'91 in Poznań, in 1993 in Gdynia and Dęblin (simulated air fight 4 MiG-23 MF with 4 MiG-29 from 1. PLM), and in 1996 in Bydgoszcz. All tasks in the air in the 90s pilots performed safely. The commander of WLiOP for 1992, 1993, 1995, 1996 awarded the regiment with a diploma and a Transitive Cup for Flight Safety. In 1997, the regiment received the WLiOP Commander's Cup for Flight Safety.    From 1993, the planes were repaired in the country, at the Military Repair Works in Dęblin, and not as before in Ukraine or Bulgaria. On August 8, 1996. The MiG-23 MF nb 139, ending its course, was handed over to Bydgoszcz, becoming a museum exhibit. On the same day, another MiG-23 MF nb 120, also finishing its resources, enriched the collections of the Polish Aviation Museum in Krakow. By the end of 1998, almost 90% of fighters were decommissioned. On September 2, 1999, all remaining MiG-23 MFs were practically grounded. It was on this day that the last school flights were made. Five MiG-23 MF and 2 MiG-23 UB aircraft took part in them. Only two MiG-23 UBs remained able to fly, those that flew on September 2, 1999. In turn their last flight took place on November 30, 1999. Some of the planes removed from the WLiOP inventory and handed over to AMW for sale to collectors, while a few of the youngest units (24 series airplanes), which still had a supply of resources, were transported to the Nadarzyce training ground and "shot" there. In 2005, information appeared that an American businessman bought several MiG-23 MF / UB aircraft (probably 5 units) with the intention of using them as flying attractions at aviation festivals. In 2005, the price of one machine at AMW as an exhibit was PLN 20,000.

Written by Karol Placha Hetman