FAREWELL TO THE RECCE RHINOS

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force held a public farewell event for the F-4 Phantom II in late 2019 as it marked the final chapter for its legendary reconnaissance ‘Rhinos’.

THE ICONIC AND muchloved McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II fleet of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) is very much in its final throes. The latest phase of the drawdown took the form of a huge public farewell event held over the weekend of November 30-December 1 at Hyakuri Air Base — the last bastion of Japanese Phantoms — located northeast of Tokyo. The primary focus for the event was to hold a public farewell for the reconnaissance-configured RF- 4E/EJs of 501 Hikotai (501 Squadron).

A stunning two-tone blue RF-4E taxies out at Hyakuri in December.

The JASDF’s 140 heavily upgraded F-4EJ Kai air defense Phantoms were first delivered from 1971, and included the last ever F-4 off the McDonnell Douglas production line. Japan’s industrial expertise enabled 127 F-4EJs to be built under license by Mitsubishi.

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