Military Aviation

Phantoms Forever! Video shows final flight for Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-4

The Phantoms featured in this post belonged to the Air Development and Test Wing, the sole unit of the Air Development and Test Command of the JASDF based at Gifu AB, in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

Taken on Mar. 17, 2021 at Gifu Air Base (AB) the video in this post features the last flight of Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) F-4EJ aircraft. The Phantoms featured in this post belonged to the Air Development and Test Wing (hikoukaihatsujikkendan), the sole unit of the Air Development and Test Command of the JASDF based at Gifu AB, in Gifu Prefecture, Japan.

From 1968, the JASDF purchased a total of 140 F-4EJ Phantoms without aerial refueling, AGM-12 Bullpup missile system, nuclear control system or ground attack capabilities. Mitsubishi built 138 under license in Japan and 14 unarmed reconnaissance RF-4Es were imported. One of the aircraft (17-8440) was the last of the 5,195 F-4 Phantoms to be produced. It was manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries on 21 May 1981. “The Final Phantom” served with 306th Tactical Fighter Squadron and later transferred to the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron.

This print is available in multiple sizes from AircraftProfilePrints.com – CLICK HERE TO GET YOURS. F-4E Phantom II 32nd TFS, CR 68-446

Of these, 96 F-4EJs were modified to the F-4EJ Kai standard. 15 F-4EJ and F-4EJ Kai were converted to reconnaissance aircraft designated RF-4EJ. Japan had a fleet of 90 F-4s in service in 2007. After studying several replacement fighters the F-35 Lightning II was chosen in 2011. The 302nd Tactical Fighter Squadron became the first JASDF F-35 Squadron at Misawa Air Base when it converted from the F-4EJ Kai on Mar. 29, 2019. The JASDF’s sole aerial reconnaissance unit, the 501st Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron, retired their RF-4Es and RF-4EJs on Mar. 9, 2020, and the unit itself dissolved on Mar. 26. The 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron then became the sole user of the F-4EJ in the Air Defense Command, with their retirement originally scheduled in 2021 along with the unit’s transition to the F-35A. However, on Nov. 20, 2020, the 301st Tactical Fighter Squadron announced the earlier retirement of their remaining F-4EJs, concluding the Phantom’s long-running career in the JASDF Air Defense Command. Some F-4s were retained to be operated by the Air Development and Test Wing.

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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