Boeing "Super Phantom"

Last revised December 30, 1999

In early 1984, Boeing and Pratt & Whitney announced that they would engage in a joint Phantom modernization program, targeted primarily at foreign users of the Phantom. McDonnell had already turned down a similar idea, citing the fact that the Phantom was already old technology and fearing that Phantom upgrades would compete with their F-15 Eagle, which they also hoped to sell on the export market.

The "Boeing Super Phantom" (as the project came to be known) was to have been powered by a pair of Pratt & Whitney PW1120 turbofans. This engine was based on the F-100 turbofan which powered both the F-15 and the F-16, and had about 70 percent commonality with the F-100. The PW1120 turbofan was 40 inches shorter than the J79 and 25 percent lighter in weight. However, it had 35 percent greater dry thrust and 30 percent greater afterburner thrust. It was anticipated that the use of the new powerplants would give a marked improvement in Phantom performance, with sustained turn rate being increased from 9 to 10.5 degrees per second and initial climb rate being increased from 42,300 to 51,000 feet per minute.

The aircraft was also to have had a 1100-US gallon conformal fuel tank fitted onto its belly. This tank was to have had hard points on it for four bombs or two Sparrow air-to-air missiles. Such a tank could carry nearly twice the fuel of the standard centerline drop tank of the Phantom and offered only 29 percent of the drag. The forward nose landing gear was to have folded inside a forward faring in the tank, and the rear fairing of the tank was to have carried an AN/ALE-40 chaff/flare dispenser.

The electronics were also to have been upgraded, with various options being made available to fit specific customer requirements. Among the options being proposed were the fitting of a GEC heads-up display, a Honeywell 423 ring laser gyro inertial navigational system, and APG-65 radar.

Boeing envisaged the establishment of cooperative programs between it and indigenous aircraft companies in the customer's own country. However, before anything could be produced, the Air Force's Aeronautical Systems Division suspended all work on the Boeing Super Phantom. The Boeing "Super Phantom" was quietly shelved.


  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.