Book Review
F-15 vs MiG23/25
F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25 Iraq 1991
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by: Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]

F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25 Iraq 1991 by Osprey Publishing LTD is the 72nd title of their series Duel. Authored by retired F-15 pilot Colonel Doug Dildy and Arab MiG expert Tom Cooper, and illustrated by Jim Laurier, this 80-page paperback reveals the USAF use of F-15s against Saddam Hussein's fighter force in Desert Storm. It gives an idea of how USAF's premier air superiority fighter might have performed had the big red bear invaded Europe. The book is assigned Osprey's short code: DUE 72.
    Designed following the relatively poor performance of America's multi-role fighters during the Vietnam War, the F-15 Eagle was conceived as a dedicated air superiority fighter. But, having trained for 15 years in the Eagle it wasn't Eastern Bloc operated MiGs that the F-15 eventually came up against, but pilots of Saddam Hussein's Iraqi airforce.

    This book analyses the combat between the American and Soviet 'Cold War fighters' in a balanced manner, examining how the technical abilities of the aircraft combined with the different levels of training available to opposing pilots and groundcrews allowed the F-15s to destroy the Iraqi offensive abilities within weeks of the First Gulf War starting. Packed with artwork, illustrations and photographs, this book places the reader in the cockpit during one of the last major dogfighting air wars in modern history.
    - Opsrey

The first-hand accounts by American and Iraqi pilots are fascinating and actually surprising. This book was hard to stop reading once I cracked the cover. It verified some of my perceptions yet totally blew away others. Read on!

The team of Dildy and Cooper bring this subject to us through 11 chapters or sections in 80 pages;
    Design and Development
    Technical Specifications
    The Strategic Situation
    The Combatants
    Statistics and Analysis
    Further Reading

The text is very detailed yet easy to read. It revealed several facts that, having grown up in the era and always hearing about how formidable Soviet Frontal Aviation was, caught me by surprise. It is also full of great fighter jock jargon, both colloquial and technical. Additionally, it mentions technical gee-whiz fortes and foibles of MiGs and Eagles, such as the "doppler notch" that clever bad guys could exploit against the F-15 radar.

The book is full of first-hand narratives from pilots who were "at the aerial sharp end" of the Desert Storm campaign. Not just USAF fighter pilots but U.S. Navy and Marine fighter and attack pilots, plus Iraqi pilots, too.

Dildy and Cooper also explain in good detail the Soviet equipment - aircraft, airframes, powerplants, and systems. Again, more questions have been put to rest; back in the early 1980s a book by a respected English combat aviation writer was highly critical of dismissive Western assessments of Soviet missile capabilities. This book, to me, confirms that NATO was far more correct than he was. It also includes some of those perplexing dichotomies between western and Soviet thought, although it has been suggested to me (outside of this book) that it was not so much a difference of thought as of Soviet exploitation of espionage that was rife within western governments during the Cold War.

Other facets of this book that is surprising and fascinated me are the limitations of the soviet radar missile engagement envelopes, and that the unmaneuverable MiG-25 could escape the F-15, even at low altitudes. Described in detail is Operation Samurra', an attempt by Iraqi "Foxbats" to isolate and ambush F-15s east of Baghdad; it describes from both sides how F-15s and MiG-25s attacked and parried each other in the flight levels over the Baghdad Super-MEZ (Missile Engagement Zone). Another account includes how a Foxbat went around and around with an F-18 over a Navy strike package! That particular story is also narrated by the Iraqi MiG-25 pilot.
    Meanwhile, I locked onto another target from behind and I asked the GCI for permission to fire but the CGI refused and asked me to confirm the target visually. So I approached it...[un]til I reached sight kilometers and prepared R-40TD heat-seeking missile and asked the GCI again for permission to fire but he denies my request again so I asked him why? He told me there was a MiG-29 [that] took off ten minutes after me and he lost track with it and he feared I might [be] engaging it. I told him this slow-moving target was impossible to be a MiG-29 but he insisted I disengage and return to base. So I moved past the target...I can still remember [seeing] the cockpit lights of that aircraft.

The same encounter is narrated by an A-6E crewman
    The 'Foxbat' [circled around and then] roared up from our 'six o' clock,' passed us off the left side and zoomed upward, still in 'burner, then pitched over for another run on us. I wondered how much fuel he had and what the missile would look like as it came off his wing toward us. After the second run with no luck, the MiG blazed away to the northeast, toward Al Taqaddum.

During this engagement the MiG pilot, Lt Zuhair Dawoud, shot down Lt Cdr Scott "Spike" Speicher in F-18 "AA403". While Dawoud survived, the fate of many of his surviving Iraqi fighter pilots is particularly sobering.

Ultimately, the scope of the book is how well did USAF Eagles fare against the mainstay soviet fighters used by the IrAF, the MiG-23 "Flogger" and MiG-25 "Foxbat"? This book discusses the encounters and results. While history tells us that the IrAF sent out small numbers of fighters against armadas of Coalition planes and thus the outcome should be obvious, I must admit that I was surprised that it wasn't 1 v 12. Those encounters actually turned out to be more even matched in numbers.

Each Duel series book includes profiles on two of the participants. In this book it is a little different in that, while it profiles MiG-killer Jay T. Denney for USAF, the IrAF pilot is actually a broad overview of IrAF MiG-25 pilots. The authors are unwilling to expose them because surviving Iraqi fighter pilots are, at the time of this printing, still being hunted down and assassinated or "disappeared" by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Shi'a terrorists, as well as agents from other countries, even in Europe.

Ultimately, the book examines the successes and failures of the F-15 vs MiG encounters. These are very interesting because we know the results of the fights to compare against the pilot's after-action reports. Surprisingly, fighter pilots are still emphatically seeing enemy jets blown to pieces and crash, even though those enemy jets in fact returned to base without damage.

Photos, art and graphics
Osprey continues their characteristic of supporting their text with high quality images. A wealth of color and black-and-white photos support the text, a few are even from Iraqi sources. One notable image is from a Soviet training film, showing the MiG-25 radar display locking on to a target.

Artist Jim Laurier enhances the text with original artwork including an "in-action" dogfight scene, and an "eagle-eye" (pardon the pun) view of a MiG about to get popped. Planforms and profiles of the F-15, MiG-23 and MiG-25 are provided in color. Artwork includes:
    1. MiG-25PD "Foxbat": three-view
    2. F-15C Eagle: three-view
    3. MiG-23ML "Flogger-G" Armament: showing the R-24/AA-7 "Apex" and R-60MK/AA-8 "Aphid" missiles, and GSh-23L 23mm cannon.
    4. F-15C Armament: showing the AIM-7M Sparrow and AIM-9M Sidewinder missiles, and M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon.
    5. MiG-25PDS "Foxbat" cockpit keyed with 51 items.
    6. F-15C Eagle cockpit keyed with 50 items.
    7. Battlescene: action centerfold of F-15s killing "Floggers" at low altitude on 27 January 1991. Components of HUD cues are shown and explained.
    8. Engaging the Enemy, an Eagle pilot's view through the HUD of the low-altitude engagement described above.

Putting the text into raw data is achieved with a table comparing critical performance measurements of the airframes and abilities of each aircraft.
    A. F-15C Eagle, MiG-23, and MiG-25 Comparison Specifications: compares and contrasts powerplants; dimensions; weights; performance; armament; radar/fire control systems (fascinating information on detection ranges, tracking ranges, look-down/shoot-down capabilities).
    B. IrAF and USAF fighter tactics diagram.
    C. "Wall of Eagles", the F-15C four-ship fighting formation, from above and laterally. These show the coverage of the Hughes APG-63 radar.

Finally, a detailed map helps to orient the reader to the arena of combat.
    i. Iraq and region showing NATO/USAF/CENTCOM/Coalition and AWACS deployments and Iraqi bases, cities, forward operating bases, GCI sites, SOCs and ADDC sites.

Entering UPT (Undergraduate Pilot Training) the F-15 was what I wanted to fly. I got to sit in one once but that was the closest I got to my goal. So my interest in modern air combat receded to no later than the Vietnam era - except for the F-15. I have talked to several F-15 pilots over the years but those conversations only created more questions than they answered. This book goes a long way towards answering those questions.

With content written in collaboration between an experienced Eagle driver and a MiG expert, F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25 Iraq 1991 is full of unequivocal information. The first-hand narratives by USAF and IrAF pilots immensely enhances the content.

My criticism is purely subjective and easily disregarded when I consider that this book is constrained within 80 pages.

With over 100 kills without loss, the F-15 sets atop an elite pyramid as the most successful modern fighter ever. Yet the battles over Iraq really did not test the fighter as it was designed for had the balloon gone up between NATO and the "Evil Empire", where USAFE (United States Air Force Europe) had only four squadrons of F-15s, outnumbered 5-to-1, to face four Soviet V-VS fighter divisions and the MiGs of Warsaw Pact countries. Perhaps a better example of a extensive F-15 vs MiG duel was over the Bekka Valley, where Israeli F-15As slaughtered Syrian MiGs by the score.

Regardless, this book gives an insight to what the premier F-15C was capable of against two of the most important Soviet-client fighters of the time. I highly recommend F-15C Eagle vs MiG-23/25 Iraq 1991.

Please remember to tell Osprey and retailers that you saw this book here - on
Highs: An amazing body of text richly supported by photographs and graphics. The first-hand narratives by USAF and IrAF pilots immensely enhances the content.
Lows: Nothing of note.
Verdict: This book gives an insight to what the premier F-15C was capable of against two of the most important Soviet-client fighters of the time.
  Scale: N/A
  Mfg. ID: ISBN: 9781472812704
  Suggested Retail: $20
  PUBLISHED: Apr 20, 2016
  NATIONALITY: Iraq / لعربية

Our Thanks to Osprey Publishing!
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About Frederick Boucher (JPTRR)

I'm a professional pilot with a degree in art. My first model was an AMT semi dump truck. Then Monogram's Lunar Lander right after the lunar landing. Next, Revell's 1/32 Bf-109G...cried havoc and released the dogs of modeling! My interests--if built before 1900, or after 1955, then I proba...

Copyright 2021 text by Frederick Boucher [ JPTRR ]. Images also by copyright holder unless otherwise noted. Opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and not necessarily those of AeroScale. All rights reserved.


Frederick, thank you for a well done review. I was surprised to hear the content of this one. I am off to Amazon to buy my copy. This one I have to read. Thanks for sharing the review
APR 29, 2016 - 12:54 PM

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