The MiG-23B 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.
In 2001 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 Between 1991 to 1994 both types were withdrawn from Russian service.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.