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The MiG-21, nicknamed 'Fishbed' by NATO, was the primary Soviet jet fighter from 1972 onward, opposing the F-15 Eagle and F-14 Tomcat worldwide in a variety of conflicts.The MiG-21 firmly holds the title of the world's most widely built and used jet fighter, with over 10,000 units rolling off the lines of three plants in the former Soviet Union. The type was also built under license in India and Czechoslovakia, and without license in China until the late 2000s. Designed as a Mach-2 light tactical fighter, its original prototype, the Ye-6/1, was first flown in 1958. The first production variant of the type, designated the MiG-21F, appeared in 1960 and its improved sub-variant, the MiG-21F-13 (Type 74, NATO reporting name Fishbed-C), was made available for export by 1961. It was a simplified daytime short-range, clear-weather interceptor and tactical fighter. The MiG-21F-13 featured a relatively weak armament of just two R-3S air-to-air missiles (AA-2 Atoll, a slightly improved reverse-engineered copy of the AIM-9B Sidewinder heat-seeking AAM) with an effective range at low altitude of between 0.27nm/0.5km and 1.1nm/2km. According to its pilots, the MiG-21F-13 was an excellent clear-day interceptor though it had limited combat radius and poor night capability. The light and agile aircraft was designed from the outset to intercept transonic/supersonic bombers and tactical fighters at all altitudes, up to 66,000ft. The MiG-21bis was the last version of the type that took the air for the first time in 1969, with the first production examples rolling off the line in 1972. The MiG-21bis featured a strengthened fuselage, optimised for low-level air combat and ground attack. It was powered by the upgraded R-25-300 turbojet, rated at 40.2kN (9,038lb) dry and 69.65kN (15,653lb) with reheat, featuring a three-minute emergency reheat rating of 97 kN (21,790 lb) at low level. Pilots noted, however, that the heavier 'bis' was much less agile than the MiG-21PF/PFM, and that it behaved like a "bull" in the air while flying the MiG-21PFM was like "riding a stallion." The MiG-21bis was a successful combination of a 1960s airframe and powerplant fitted with a 1970s-vintage analog avionics suite and modern dogfight missiles. By the mid-1980s, although it retained the principal shortcomings of its predecessors - limited operational radius and radar range, lack of beyond-visual-range missiles, poor pilot visibility, mediocre slow speed handling characteristics and high pilot workload, requiring hard training and concentration during the entire sortie - it proved to be an inexpensive and widely popular combat aircraft.
With its distinctive double-cockpit design, the Mi-24 'Hind' is arguably the most recognizable war machine of the Cold War, and has achieved near-legendary status in the annals of military history. The first Soviet helicopter to function as both a gunship and an assault transport, it served extensively in Afghanistan, and is now employed by militaries across the world. Written by an expert on the 'Hind', and drawing on manufacturing and military sources, this book presents the Mi-24 in all of its brutal glory, from design and development to deployment and combat. Also included are a number of color plates showing the distinct paint schemes employed by various nations in a range of theaters and for different armies.
Like the American A-10 Warthog, the first Soviet jet dedicated by design to CAS (Close Air Support), the 'Frogfoot' has durability and firepower.In February 2012, the Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO reporting name Frogfoot) celebrated 37 years of its maiden flight, 31 years of its formal induction into squadron service and 25 years of its formal entry into service with the Soviet Air Force. It was the Soviet Air Force's first mass-produced jet purposely designed for the Close Air Support (CAS) role and is a simple, effective and durable attack workhorse that, by 2012, had seen combat in no fewer than 40 conflicts.The Su-25 received its baptism of fire five years after its maiden flight, during Operation Romb in Afghanistan in 1980. This operation saw the new aircraft go through its field evaluation and testing in real-world war conditions.As many as 630 Su-25 Frogfoot-As were built between 1979 and 1991 at the Georgia-based aircraft plant now known as TAM (Tbilisi Aircraft Manufacturing) for the Soviet Air Force, as well as 185 Su-25Ks for export, while no fewer than 70 Su-25UB/UBK Frogfoot-B two-seaters rolled off the production line at the aviation plant in Ulan Ude (UUAP), Russia. Currently, there are plans to resume production of the two-seater variant with state-of-the-art avionics and the latest weaponry to replace those Su-25s dating from the mid/late 1980s that are still in service.The Frogfoot is known as the most cost-effective ground attack aircraft available to the Russian Air Force (RuAF) and, between the RuAF and the Russian Navy's aviation assets, there are some 200-220 Su-25s still in operation today, though only half of that number is airworthy at any one time. As with many Soviet designs, the Su-25 has been widely exported, with 25 nations operating variants of the Frogfoot at one time or another, and it remains in service 19 of these states - a testament to its effectiveness and reliability.
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