tactical nuclear bombs, FAB series free-fall
bombs or retarded bombs
was developed from the
MiG-23 interceptor in the late 1960s to meet
a Frontal Aviation requirement for a tactical attack aircraft. The
series production MiG-23BN variant proved disappointing in service
and was replaced by more capable MiG-27 Flogger.
The upgraded MiG-23BM/BK
variants incorporated the improved avionics of later MiG-27s. Many
BM/BKs built for export were described as MiG-23BNs.
significant operators were Afghanistan, Bulgaria, Cuba, India and Libya.
Algeria's aircraft received an avionics
upgrade by a Bulgarian firm. Lesser operators are Angola, Ethiopia
and Sudan. During border clashes with Eritrea in 1998 two Ethiopian
MiG-23s was lost to ground fire.
The MiG-27 was developed as a fully
optimized fighter-bomber based on the MiG-23BM. Along with the
Su-17, the MiG-27 formed one half of the mainstay of the attack
force of Tactical Frontal Aviation armies. Between 1991 to 1994 both
types were withdrawn from Russian service. The only current MiG-27
operators are Kazakhstan (with three attack regiments) and India.
Both operate the MiG-27M Flogger-J variant fitted with PrNK-23M nav/attack
system, Pelenga weapons system giving compatibility with precision
guided munitions and
guided air-to-surface missiles and a Klen (maple) laser range-finder/target tracker.
The MiG-27s are capable of automatic night or bad weather blind
bombing with a very high degree of accuracy. In India HAL has
manufactured 165 MiG-27Ms under license (known by MiG as MiG-27Ls).
Although it is giving priority to the MiG-21 upgrade, the Indian air
force intends to keep its MiG-27 force viable until 2020, and HAL's
Nasik plant is currently investigating a substantial MiG-27 upgrade.
This will give the ability to launch stand-off weapons and a night
attack capability. New equipment includes two multi-function
displays, updated head-up display, hands on stick and throttle
controls and a ring laser gyro internal navigation system and GPS-based navigation system
similar to that fitted to Indian
Jaguars. The MiG-27s may also gain
an improved electronic warfare suite, in-flight refuelling capability,
forward-looking infra-red and a
Vicon reconnaissance pod. MiG-27Ms currently equip nine IAF attack squadrons.