Phantoms Pharewell By Peter Boschert
The German Air Force bought 175 F-4F and 10 F-4E in 1971. The first aircraft had its maiden flight on 18th May 1973.The difference to the common F-4E were the the omission of the seventh fuselage tank, the AN-APQ-120 radar in a simpler version and the omission of the capability of air refueling and the use of the AIM-7 Sparrow.
Between 1980-1984, the improvment program Peace Rhine brought all F-4F to the standard of the F-4E. The F-4F was used in JaboG 35 & 36 (JaboG – Fighter Bomber Wing) and the JG 71 & 74 (JG – Fighter Interceptor Wing), the 10 F-4E were used as training aircraft, first at George AFB, later at Holloman AFB.
The ICE program (Impoved Combat Efficiency) was implemented between 1990 and 1997. 43 F-4F received a life-extension program for use in the air to ground role, these retained their black noses. A further 113 F-4F received next to the life extension a new radar, the Hughes APG-65 which allows the Phantom to use the AIM-120 AMRAAM in the air defence role. 2008 JG 71 “Richthofen” at Wittmund was the last user of the F-4F in the German Air Force with nearly 50 aircraft.
Presently, 10 F-4F Phantom II are left with the wing, they will stay until their offical retirement date on 29.06.2013, most are scheduled to be scrapped at Jever. For this occasion, four aircraft were painted in special colours. 37+22 was painted in the Norm 90J, the actual used scheme. 38+10 was painted in the Norm 72, the colours the Phantoms had when they were introduced into service. 38+33 was painted in the Norm 81A colours which was introduced in the early 80s. The first built F-4F (which was the sole one which was built completely in the United States) was painted in special colours for 40 years F-4F and the Last Call in June 2013.