Although, the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is technically not a warbird yet, we at WarbirdsNews feel that almost anything related to the mighty smoking Rhino deserves coverage (Click HERE for previous articles), and we felt sure our readers would be interested in hearing about the events at Gifu Air Base. On March 17, 2021, the three remaining F-4EJ Phantom assigned to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s Air Development and Test Wing made their final sortie. This flight followed the November 20, 2020 official retirement ceremony which saw the JASDF retire its last front line F-4 Phantom fighter jets since more F-35s were now operational.
Yesterday the Phantoms (two F-4EJ and an F-4EJ “Kai”) took off for early in the morning and they performed several flyovers the base before landing for the last time. Once on the ground the typical water salute occurred when the Phantoms taxied under plumes of water expelled by the base’s fire fighting vehicles.
Japan’s Phantom story began in 1968 when the McDonnell Douglas type was selected for the JASDF, an order being placed for 140 F-4EJ versions, based on the U.S. Air Force’s then-standard F-4E. After 48 years, Japan’s days of flying F-4 Phantom II fighters in a combat role are coming to an end.
With the end of Japanese F-4 Phantom II operations, only the Greeks, Turks, South Korea and Iranian air arms still fly the type. Go see them while you still can!