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The F-4 Phantom II Will Not Be Retired

The Phantom’s nearly fifty-year U.S. active-duty service ended in 1996, and the jet survives. Greece uses them. U.S. military airframes were the most flexible.

The Phantom—an all-weather, supersonic fighter, bomber, and interceptor—served the U.S. Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps for four decades.

With 5,195 completed planes, the F-4 Phantom is the American military plane has been made the most.

The 1958 Phantom set 16 performance records, including speed and altitude.

The Phantom held the speed record until 1975, when the F-15 Eagle, with 50,000 pounds of thrust, broke it.

Phantom pilots’ slogan was “Speed is life,” The Phantom’s Mach 2.2 maximum speed is impressive given its massive size and weight. The Phantom weighs about 61,000 pounds and is 63 feet long.

Not. The Phantom’s two General Electric J79 engines provide 1,400 mph speeds, 60,000-foot service ceilings, and 41,300-foot-per-minute climbing rates.

Acceleration made Phantom engagement and disengagement seamless. Phantom was unwieldy. The F-4 was unsuitable for dogfighting and had adverse yaw in tight turns, so enemy MiGs could outturn it.

The F-4’s internal cannons fired radar-guided missiles beyond the pilot’s sight, and They did not use them during air combat maneuvers. Phantom versions have nine external hardpoints and no cannon. Missing a cannon was a mistake.

John Chesire, who flew 197 F-4 combat missions in Vietnam, termed that the biggest mistake. Bullets are cheap and hit targets. “I desperately needed a gun.”

“Everyone in RF-4s wished they had a pistol aboard the aircraft,” said National Air and Space Museum Director Jack Dailey. also, they prioritized the F-4’s new (unreliable) heat-seeking and radar-guided missiles without cannons. Pilots often fired multiple missiles at one target. In Vietnam, visual identification of the enemy prohibited long-range missile assaults. F-4s downed 107 MiGs in Vietnam.

After 30 years, Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait using the F-4. The F-4 “Wild Weasels” defeated opposing SAMs. The F-4’s SEAD function protected coalition aircraft against Saddam’s advanced air defense system.

After nearly fifty years, the Phantom left active duty in 1996. The jet survives—Andravida Air Base houses 18 Greek F-4s. South Korea possesses 27 F-4Es. 54.

Iran, our former friend, has 62 F-4s and F-14 Tomcats.

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