The Last Operators of the F-4 Phantom

Over its many years of service, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II has become an icon of modern combat aircraft – being a favourite of operators and aviation enthusiasts the world over.

It graced the skies for the first time on May 27, 1958, making it one of the oldest combat aircraft to remain in operational service today. However, the number of air arms operating the platform is quickly reducing as the F-4 is replaced by modern aircraft, which are more capable of tackling the threats of both today and tomorrow.

JASDF F-4EJ, US Navy E-2 and F-18 [US Navy/Cmdr Guy Snodgrass]
A Japanese McDonnell Douglas F-4EJ Kai flies in formation with a US Navy Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye and Boeing F/A-18E Super Hornet during a training event in August 2016. US Navy/Cmdr Guy Snodgrass

Production of the F-4 Phantom II ran from 1958 to 1981 and in that time, a total of 5,195 examples were produced for a number of customers. The largest operator was the US, with the US Air Force (USAF), US Marine Corps (USMC) and US Navy all operating variants of the type. The platform was also exported to Egypt, Germany, Greece, Iran, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the UK. Australia also leased a number of examples in the early 1970s, when the nation was awaiting the delivery of the General Dynamics F-111.

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