Japan’s Phantom Phinal Pharewell

Photo by Katsuhiko Tokunaga
Aircorps Art Dec 2019


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, 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.

JASDF F 4 Phantom 301302 Hikotai
The November 20, 2020 event marked the retirement of the front line Phantom with the JASDF (Photo JASDF)

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.

JASDF F 4EJ Phantom II Photo Tokunaga
Photo by Katsuhiko Tokunaga

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!

Moreno-Aguiari

Born in Milan, Italy, Moreno moved to the U.S. in 1999 to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. His aviation passion began early, inspired by his uncle, an F-104 Starfighter Crew Chief, and his father, a military traffic controller. Childhood adventures included camping outside military bases and watching planes at Aeroporto Linate. In 1999, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, to obtain his commercial pilot license, a move that became permanent. With 24 years in the U.S., he now flies full-time for a Part 91 business aviation company in Atlanta. He is actively involved with the Commemorative Air Force, the D-Day Squadron, and other aviation organizations. He enjoys life with his supportive wife and three wonderful children.

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About Moreno Aguiari 3337 Articles
Born in Milan, Italy, Moreno moved to the U.S. in 1999 to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. His aviation passion began early, inspired by his uncle, an F-104 Starfighter Crew Chief, and his father, a military traffic controller. Childhood adventures included camping outside military bases and watching planes at Aeroporto Linate. In 1999, he relocated to Atlanta, Georgia, to obtain his commercial pilot license, a move that became permanent. With 24 years in the U.S., he now flies full-time for a Part 91 business aviation company in Atlanta. He is actively involved with the Commemorative Air Force, the D-Day Squadron, and other aviation organizations. He enjoys life with his supportive wife and three wonderful children.

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