Japan announces RF-4E retirement

An RF-4E Kai Phantom II of the JASDF’s 501 Hikotai with the unit’s distinctive ‘Woody Woodpecker’ tail markings. The squadron has lown the Phantom since December 3, 1974.
Jerry Gunner

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force will retire its ageing RF-4EJ Kai Phantom II reconnaissance jets by March 2020.

Japan’s 501st Hikotai (squadron) which lies the veteran reconnaissance machines from Hyakuri Air Base, Ibaraki province will be decommissioned at the same time. The Japan Air Self- Defense Force intends to use its leet of F-35A and F-35B Lightning IIs to replace part of the capability provided by the Phantom. The Japan Air Self- Defense Forceintroduced its irst RF-4Es in 1974 and has 13 remaining in service.