In the 1960’s the Soviet military required a replacement for the MiG-21 that could compete with the USAF F-14 Tomcat. It had to be very fast, rapid acceleration, carry a larger payload, capable of a high service ceiling, long range and beyond visual range intercept capabilities. The project was given to the Mikoyan- Gurevich Design Bureau that produced the Model 23-11 that first flew on June 10, 1967. Production began in 1969 and eventually completed over 5,000 swing-wing MiG-23s. A ground-attack variant was also produced, the MiG-27.
The 1521st Center for Combat Employment was established in 1970 in Mary, Oblast (province) in Turkmenia SSR and since 1979 is better known as 1521st Aviation Base for its role as a waypoint for aircraft going to and from Afghanistan. The base is also home to 2nd Squadron “Aggressor” that was equipped with MiG-23MLDs from 1980 until 1992. The 2nd Squadron task was to train other units in air-to-air combat using the airspace over the Ashuluk Range. The 2nd Squadron logo is a Brave Viking with a cudgel (club).