McDonnell F-4J(UK) Phantom II

Last revised December 30, 1999

The RAF Phantom did not participate in the Falkland/Malvinas conflict of 1981. However, Phantom FGR.Mk.2s (F-4Ms) of No. 23 Squadron began operating out of Port Stanley Airport in the Falkland Islands in 1982 following their recapture from Argentina. In order to compensate NATO for the diversion of these aircraft to the Falklands, Britain purchased 15 low-time, ex-US Navy F-4Js which had been in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB. The Navy serials of these planes were BuNos 153768, 152773, 153783, 153785, 153795, 153803, 153850, 153809, 155510, 155529, 155574, 155734, 155755, 155868, and 155894. They were assigned the designation F-4J(UK) rather than the more logical "Phantom F.Mk 3" so that they would not be confused with the Tornado F.Mk 3. RAF serials were ZE350-ZE364.

These planes were overhauled and modified at NAS North Island, California before delivery to the RAF. The F-4J(UK) aircraft retained their J79 engines and most of their American avionics. However, a number of US Navy systems, such as the AN/ASN-54 Approach Power Compensator System, the AN/ASW-25 datalink system, and the AN/ALQ-126 countermeasures set, were removed and replaced by British systems. The prominent electronics countermeasures antennae fairings on the upper sides of the air intakes remained on the aircraft, but were actually now empty.

The first three F-4J(UK) aircraft were delivered to the United Kingdom in August of 1984. They equipped the newly-formed No. 74 Squadron at RAF Wattisham. These aircraft were intended to serve in the air defense role pending the introduction of the Tornado F.Mk 3. In later years, these aircraft were made compatible with the BAe Sky Flash air-to-air missile. The F-4J(UK) fighters were eventually retired in early 1991 when some low-time Phantom FGR.Mk 2 fighters became available to No. 74 Squadron. However, The Phantom FGR.Mk 2 was used only briefly by No. 74 Squadron, the squadron standing down on September 20, 1992 and disbanding the next day.


  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  2. McDonnell F-4 Phantom: Spirit in the Skies. Airtime Publishing, 1992.

  3. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  4. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.