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F-4 Phantom

US Air Force: Weapons F-4G McDonnell Douglas Phantom II
The combined pressure of continued funding of the F-22 and success of the F-16's HTS system will soon lead to the retirement of the last F-4Gs from the USAF. Developed as a result of the lessons learned from the Vietnam war, the 'Wild Weasels' saw combat in Desert Storm, which temporarily saved them from retirement. Since they were modified from F-4Es, the 'Wild Weasel' Phantoms can carry the whole range of ordnance sported by other USAF F-4s, but seldom do. After all, it makes little sense to have a very rare and expensive aircraft and its specially trained crew out dropping iron bombs on a target that can be dispatched by a much cheaper and more plentiful F-16.


The big F-4 fighter-bomber was gradually evolved from theF3H, with which it had no more than a configurational similarity. Despite its size and bulky look, the F-4 had excellent performance and good manoeuvrability; it was adopted by both the USN and the USAF. Early F-4's had no fixed gun, but this was corrected after combat experience in Vietnam showed the need for one. Over 5000 were built, making the F-4 one of the most numerous modern combat aircraft. Many are still in service. Now and then, plans are announced to upgrade the F-4 with new engines and electronics. The RF-4 is a recce version of the F-4 fighter with a camera nose. Currently retired F-4s are being converted into QF-4 target drones.

Typical F-4G configurations include

o ECM pods: Originally fitted with long ALQ-119 pods, these were eventually superseded by the deep ALQ-131, and later by the long ALQ-184. To remain clear of the nose gear door, these pods are always mounted in the left-forward Sparrow well. The right-forward well is usually left vacant. o Fuel Tanks: In addition to two standard Phantom 370-US gal (1,400-liter) outboard fuel tanks, the 'Wild Weasels' always used 610-US gal (2,310-liter) F-15 fuel tanks on the centerline. These replaced the Vietnam-era 600-US gal fuel tanks in the early 1980s because the older tanks were not stressed for low-altitude, high-speed flight, sometimes breaking apart and causing the loss of the aircraft.

o Air-to-air missiles: F-4Gs are capable of employing the AIM-7F/M versions of the Sparrow. When carried, a pair is mounted in the rear Sparrow wells. F-4Gs seldom, if ever, carry AIM-9 Sidewinders, because they prevent carriage of anti-radiation missiles (ARMs) on the inboard wing stations. o Air-to-ground missiles: Primary ordnance carriage on F-4Gs is on the inboard pylons. The preferred weapon is AGM-88 HARMs, mounted to LAU-118 launchers. While the normal load is two, up to four can be carried using all four wing pylons. The older AGM-45 Shrikes can be mounted to either the LAU-34 or LAU-118. Vastly inferior to the HARM, Shrikes would probably be used only if stocks of AGM-88s ran low. AGM-65 Mavericks can be mounted to either triple-rail LAU-88s or single-rail LAU-117s, but only on the inboard pylons. The old AGM-78 Standard ARM was also only loaded on the inboard pylon using the LAU-80 launcher, but has been retired. Desert Storm
During Desert Storm F-4G 'Wild Weasels' flew more than 2,800 sorties using callsigns taken from popular American beer names (e.g. Michelob, Coors, Lonestar, etc.). Sheikh Isa, Bahrain was the focal point for receipt and distribution of all AGM-88 HARM missiles and F-4Gs based there from the 81st TFS and 561st TFS 'Trojans' fired more than 1,100 HARMs.