More
    HomeMilitarySouth Korea and US Say Farewell to the F-4 Phantom's Storied Era

    South Korea and US Say Farewell to the F-4 Phantom’s Storied Era

    Published on

    spot_img
    McDonnell Douglas F-4 ‘Phantom II’” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    In April, the skies over the Korean peninsula were filled with the sounds of an era coming to an end as South Korea’s F-4 Phantom fighter jets completed their final live-fire exercises.

    Speyer – Technikmuseum Speyer – McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II 01” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    These exercises took place against the backdrop of the largest Combined Air Training event between the US and South Korea, signifying the retirement of a legendary aircraft and its companion missile system, the AGM-142 Popeye.

    Berlin – Militärhistorisches Museum Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow – McDonnell F-4 Phantom II 01” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    For more than 50 years, the F-4 Phantom, affectionately known as the “Goblin of the Sky,” has played a pivotal role in the defense of South Korea.

    Speyer – Technikmuseum Speyer – McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II 02” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The upcoming formal retirement ceremony on June 8th, 2024, will see the last ten Phantoms honored at Suwon Air Base, marking the end of a significant chapter in South Korean airpower history.

    Chantilly VA – Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center – McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Chuck Watson, a curator for the Combat Air Museum, reflected on the aircraft’s legacy, saying, “It’s got a tremendous following of people.”

    Berlin – Militärhistorisches Museum Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow – McDonnell F-4 Phantom II 02” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The F-4’s unique design, which required a dedicated backseat crew member for navigation and combat awareness, made it a powerful asset during its early service years, including extensive use during the Vietnam War.

    Col. Gallemore and two Republic of Korea Air Force KF-16 pilots, fly together in formation over the Yellow Sea” by U.S. Indo-Pacific Command is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    South Korea first added the F-4D variant to its fleet in 1969, becoming a central figure in the nation’s air defense. Even as newer models like the KF-16 were introduced in 1994, the F-4 remained a testament to versatility and firepower, with roughly 220 F-4s serving in various capacities, including the upgraded F-4E and the reconnaissance RF-4C.

    Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center: Profile view of the SR-71 Blackbird, F-4 Corsair, P-40 Warhawk, among others” by Chris Devers is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The Popeye missiles, which South Korea adopted in 2002, complemented the F-4s with long-range precision strike capabilities. With a range exceeding 60 miles and a payload over 770 pounds, they played a critical role in deterrence, especially considering the proximity of North Korean threats.

    FA-50 Fighting Eagle First Delivery” by Korea Aerospace Industries is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    During the Combined Air Training exercise, over 100 aircraft from the US and South Korea, including modern F-16s, F-35Bs, F-35As, F-15Ks, and FA-50 fighters, demonstrated the strength of the partnership between the two countries. This event underscored the allies’ interoperability and their resolve to address regional security challenges.

    CGI: A F-35 Lightning II Landing on HMS Queen Elizabeth” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    As South Korea turns the page with the F-4’s retirement, it opens a new chapter in air defense with modern jets like the F-35 and the KF-16. These advanced aircraft are set to carry the legacy forward, ensuring the protection of South Korean airspace.

    McDonnell QF-4 Phantom II” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    The farewell to the F-4 Phantom also resonates across the Pacific in New Mexico, where crowds gathered at Holloman Air Force Base to witness the final flight of the QF-4 Phantom II.

    Berlin – Militärhistorisches Museum Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow – McDonnell F-4 Phantom II 04” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Lt. Col. Ronald King, commander of Detachment 1, 82nd Aerial Target Squadron, said, “This has been a humbling experience,” underscoring the deep connection and significance of the aircraft to those who have served alongside it.

    Mc Donnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II FG.1 XV574” by fsll2 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    King added, “There is no way to truly understand what this aircraft has done without talking to the people who lived it.” The F-4, which entered service in 1963 and was known for setting 15 world records, holds a special place in military aviation history.

    Berlin – Militärhistorisches Museum Flugplatz Berlin-Gatow – McDonnell F-4 Phantom II 05” by Daniel Mennerich is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    The aircraft, having earned various nicknames like “The Double Ugly,” “Old Smokey,” and “The Rhino,” completed 145 unmanned missions, with 70 aircraft lost in service. Before its retirement, the QF-4 served as manned and unmanned training targets, contributing to the development of new radars and defense systems.

    F-4 Phantom II, Titusville Air Show, 1984” by StevenM_61 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    As the F-4 Phantom II phases out, both South Korea and the United States pay tribute to this iconic jet’s enduring legacy. It’s an acknowledgment of the aircraft’s family-like bond among its crew and the indelible mark it has left on military aviation. While the “Goblins of the Sky” may no longer roar through the skies, the legacy of the F-4 Phantom will continue to inspire as a symbol of strength and innovation.

    Relevant articles:
    F-4 Era Ends in South Korea: Retirement Ceremony Set for June, SOFREP
    WATCH: F-4 Phantom Bids Fond Farewell With Final Flight, Military.com

    Latest articles

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...

    The B-21 Raider of the U.S. Air Force Prepares for Deployment Despite Production Hurdles and Hypersonic Competition

    The B-21 Raider, the United States Air Force's new stealth bomber, is edging closer...

    More like this

    FN Five-seveN MRD: A New Era in Precision Handguns

    The FN Five-seveN has stood out in the modern firearms landscape for years, known...

    Raytheon’s Breakthrough: Achieving Milestones in the HALO Program

    The United States Navy is enhancing its offensive prowess and strategic vision by developing...

    Significance of Reagan Test Site in US Hypersonic Weapon Testing

    The US Air Force has garnered attention with the successful trial of a prototype...