Fighters For The Missile Era
F4-S, F-4G, F4-M
Phantom in Foreign Service
No 893 Squadron served aboard Britainís last large aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal, from 1970 until its final cruise ended December 4, 1978. To fit this carrierís elevators and short deck, the radome could be folded back, and the nose landing gear extension was increased to increase the angle of attack at takeoff. Increased power and enlarged air intakes improved the F-4Kís takeoff, acceleration, and combat radius, although top speed decreased from Mach 2.2 to 1.9. Armament was similar to the F-4J.
The RAFís first YF-4M flew February 17, 1967, and the production F-4M on December 26. From July 1968 to August 1969, the RAF received two YF-4M and 116 Ms, which they designated Phantom FGR.Mk 2, as well as 28 of the Ks, and eight squadrons flew Phantoms in 1978. During the Falklands crisis in 1984, 15 surplus F-4Js were added to the RAF inventory. The last FGR.Mk 2 retired from No. 74 Squadron in October 1992.
Iran was the next to order Phantoms on September 30, 1966, and got 32 new F-4Ds, which first reached Teheran in September 1968, as well as 177 F-4Es and 16 RF-4Es delivered from April 1971 to December 1978. The Shah of Iran was considered to be the strongest obstacle to communist expansion in the Middle East.
The Islamic revolution removed the Shah and turned against Americans, so a February 28, 1979, order stopped production on 47 more Phantoms. Iraq attacked Iran in September 1980 and F-4 pilots began claims for at least 80 kills. After the August 1988 ceasefire, some 95 Phantoms remained, many grounded with parts shortages.