Tuesday, June 18, 2024

South Korea retires F-4 Phantom jets

The Republic of Korea Air Force has officially retired its fleet of F-4 Phantom fighter jets, marking the end of an era in the nation’s military aviation history.

The retirement ceremony, held at the 10th Fighter Wing in Suwon, Gyeonggi Province, was attended by Minister of National Defense Shin Won-sik and featured the final flight of two F-4E jets.

The ceremony, which took place on Friday, included commemorative flights by a range of modern fighter jets such as the F-16, KF-16, FA-50, RF-16, F-15K, and F-35A, symbolizing the transition of air defense duties to newer aircraft. These demonstrations underscored South Korea’s ongoing commitment to maintaining a robust and modern air force.

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In his remarks, Minister Shin reflected on the Phantom’s storied history and its impact on South Korea’s defense capabilities. “The noble spirit of the Phantom, dedicated to safeguarding South Korea’s airspace, will forever remain with us,” Shin stated, emphasizing the aircraft’s role in achieving air superiority over North Korea.

The ceremony also paid tribute to the pilots and patriots who sacrificed their lives in service to the country. This somber moment highlighted the deep respect and gratitude felt for those who operated and maintained the F-4 Phantoms over the years.

The F-4 Phantom jets first arrived in South Korea in 1969, significantly enhancing the nation’s defense posture amid threats from North Korea’s Soviet-made aircraft. Over the past 55 years, approximately 220 Phantoms have served in various capacities, from reconnaissance to interception missions. Despite their long service, only about ten of these jets remained operational until their recent retirement.

The decommissioning of the F-4 Phantom fleet comes as South Korea prepares to deploy the KF-21, a domestically developed supersonic fighter jet, by 2026. The KF-21 is expected to replace the aging F-4 and F-5 jets, ensuring that the Republic of Korea Air Force remains equipped with state-of-the-art technology to meet future challenges.

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Executive Editor

About author:

Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov
Dylan Malyasov is the editor-in-chief of Defence Blog. He is a journalist, an accredited defense advisor, and a consultant. His background as a defense advisor and consultant adds a unique perspective to his journalistic endeavors, ensuring that his reporting is well-informed and authoritative. read more

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