Final Sayonara for Japanese Phantoms

After retiring the last operational F-4EJ Phantoms from service, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) has now also completed the withdrawal of the remaining examples of the type.

The oldest Phantom in Japanese service, ADTW F-4EJ - serial 17-8301 - pictured at Gifu on March 17, 2021. This aircraft had the honour of being one of the three making the final flight of the type in JASDF service. It had first arrived in Japan from the US in 1971. JASDF Gifu PCO

The last examples of the multi-role fighter in service were those of the Hiko Kaihatsu Jikkendan (Air Development and Test Wing, ADTW) at Gifu Air Base, located in Japan's Gifu Prefecture. The final flight took place on March 17, when the three remaining ADTW-operated F-4EJs - serials 17-8301, 47-8336 and 07-8431 - carried out a local flight from Gifu. After landing for the final time, the aircraft were greeted by a traditional water cannon salute. Prior to this, two other F-4EJs had been retired by the unit: 77-8393 completed its final flight at Gifu on March 12, while 07-8439 was flown from Gifu to Tsuiki on March 15, where it will be preserved.

The JASDF has now bid a final Sayonara to its matured and much-admired fleet of F-4 Phantom II multi-role fighters. The service operated two distinct variants of the platform, the F-4EJ and RF-4EJ Kai/Phantom II. AirForces Intelligence data states that the F-4EJ entered service with the JASDF in 1971, while the RF-4EJ began operations with the air arm in October 1975. The RF-4EJ was retired by the JASDF in March 2020.

301 Hikotai at Hyakuri Air Base in Japan's Ibaraki Prefecture served as the final operational squadron for the F-4EJs within the JASDF. The unit retired its final examples on November 20, 2020 - bringing to an end almost 50 years of Phantom II operations with the Japan. To read more about the multi-role fighter's near half-century of operations with the JASDF, follow the link below.