Abandoned MiG-23 Floggers at Joint Base Balad

balad-mig-23 (Image: fisherbray, reproduced with permission)

These abandoned Russian-built fighter jets are part of an impressive MiG-23 graveyard at Joint Base Balad, a former Iraqi air force base within the borders of the so-called Sunni Triangle.

The aircraft were partly dismantled and hidden (like this buried MiG-25) prior to the 2003 US-led invasion, their stripped-out carcasses recovered by American troops and liberally daubed in graffiti.

balad-mig-23s (Image: fisherbray, reproduced with permission)

While the majority of Saddam’s air force was destroyed on the ground in the opening days of the Iraq War, these jets may already have been unserviceable by that time. Two squadrons of MiG-23 Floggers are known to have been based at Balad during the 1980s, meaning these aircraft may have been out of service following the Gulf War of 1990 – 1991.

balad-mig-23-abandoned (Image: fisherbray, reproduced with permission)

The 2004 image via Google Earth (below) shows a line of 10 remaining MiG-23s on the northwest side of the Balad airbase complex. The above photographs were taken in 2007, but it’s unclear whether the planes are still present or whether they’ve now been scrapped.

balad-mig-23s-derelict (Image: screenshot from DigitalGlobe via Google Earth)

View more photos of Balad’s MiG-23 graveyard here, and check out these Cold War-era MiGs turned into monuments.

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