McDonnell F-4D Phantom Bows Out of Service

 - July 2, 2010, 5:48 AM
Two Korean F-4D Phantoms escort a U.S. Air Force F-111 during an exercise in the early 1980s. (Photo credit: U.S. Air Force)

The Republic of Korea Air Force brought an era to an end when on June 16 it conducted the last flights of its McDonnell F-4D Phantom IIs. These veterans had served for 41 years, and were the last of the early model Phantoms in service anywhere in the world. 

South Korea first acquired the F-4D when it received a batch of 18 ex-U. S. Air Force aircraft in 1969. The U.S. delivered another 18 in 1972, in return for the transfer of 36 Northrop F-5s to South Vietnam, and a batch of 24 was received in the late 1980s, including some aircraft equipped with the Pave Spike laser designator. Other deliveries are believed to have raised Korean F-4D numbers to around 69.

Throughout its career with the Republic of Korea Air Force the F-4D served only with the 11th Tactical Fighter Wing at Daegu and its two squadrons, the 111th and 151st. Despite the retirement of the F-4D, South Korea remains a Phantom operator, as it still flies the “younger” F-4E. Replacement for these old warriors is arriving in the form of the Boeing F-15K.