Phantom with South Korea

Last revised April 1, 2000

The Hankook Kong Gon (Republic of Korea Air Force, or RoKAF) began to acquire Phantoms in the late 1960s, and continues in the present day to be an important user of the Phantom.

In 1968, the Republic of Korea, having gotten rather nervous about border clashes with North Korea, ordered an initial batch of 18 F-4Ds. This order was filled using aircraft drawn from from existing USAF stocks rather than by new construction. The transfer program was assigned the code name Peace Spectator. The first four F-4Ds arrived in Korea in August of 1969. They were supplied to the 110th TFS of the llth FW based at Taegu.

In 1972, the RoKAF received 18 more F-4Ds drawn from the USAF's locally-based 3rd TFW. These planes were supplied in return for the Korean government agreeing to transfer 36 Northrop F-5A/Bs to South Vietnam under the Enhance Plus program. The F-4Ds were supplied to the 157st TFS of the 11th FW. These planes were officially only on loan to Korea, but the transfer was eventually made permanent. A few USAF F-4Ds were used by the RoKAF on short-term loan during the 1970s, but six were permanently supplied to the RoKAF in 1982 to make up for attrition, and a further 24 were delivered between December 1987 and April 1988. This last batch were equipped with Pave Spike laser designators. This final batch enabled the ROKAF to bring its two F-4D squadrons back to full strength and to equip a third. Ultimately, 92 ex-USAF F-4Ds were transferred to South Korea, the last being delivered in 1988. About 60 of these remain in service.

The RoKAF ordered 37 new-build F-4Es from McDonnell, receiving the first examples in 1978. The last of these planes, 78-0744, was the the 5068th and last Phantom to be built in the USA. These 37 planes were delivered under Operation Peace Pheasant II. They went to the 152nd and 153re TFS of the 17th TFW based at Chongju. Subsequently, Korea has received batches of ex-USAF F-4Es, bringing the F-4E total to 103. About 55 of these planes remain in service.

When the USAF's Korea-based 460th TRG disbanded in late 1990, 12 of their RF-4Cs were turned over to the RoKAF, along with a quantity of AN/ALQ-131 jamming pods. These were given to the 131st TRS of the 39th TRG based at Suwon. 11 additional RF-4Cs were subsequently handed over to Korea.

In 1989, the Republic of Korea's Agency for Defense Development announced that they wanted to up grade the radar and avionics of many opf its surviving F-4D/E aircraft. In 1993, DASA submitted a series of proposals to the Korean government to upgrade 38 F-4Es to make them suitable for BVR missions. Rockwell also issued a set of proposals for upgrades based on the Westinghouse APG-66. However, funding priorities have always caused such major upgrading programs to be put on hold. Most of the upgrades have been on a much smaller scale, designed primarily to extend the service life. Several F-4Es have been modified to carry the AN/AVQ-26 Pave Tack laser targeting pod. About 30 F-4Es have been equipped to carry the Lockheed Martin/Rafael AGM-142 Raptor/Popeye stand-off missile.

The following RoKAF units are equipped with the Phantom:

The following table is a list of known USAF serials of Phantoms transferred to the RoKAF. It includes both used ex-USAF aircraft transferred to Korea as well as the batches of new-build F-4Es purchased by Korea. This list is incomplete and is likely to contain errors. I would appreciate hearing from anyone who has any additions or corrections to this list.

64-929/937		McDonnell F-4D-24-MC Phantom
				0931 to Korea in 1969
				0933 to Korea in 1969 
					w/o before 1982
				0934 to Korea in 1969
				0935 to Korea in 1969
64-938/963		McDonnell F-4D-25-MC Phantom
				0941 to Korea in 1969
				0943 to Korea in 1969
				0944 to Korea in 1969
				0946 to Korea in 1969
				0947 to Korea in 1969
				0948 to Korea in 1969
				0950 to Korea in 1969 
					w/o before 1982
				0951 to Korea in 1969
				0955 to Korea in 1969 
					w/o before 1982
				0957 to Korea in 1969
				0958 to Korea in 1969
				0961 to Korea in 1969
				0962 to Korea in 1969
64-964/980		McDonnell F-4D-25-MC Phantom
				0966 to Korea in 1969
				0978 to Korea in 1972
65-580/611		McDonnell F-4D-26-MC Phantom
				0582 to Korea in 1972
				0589 to Korea in 1972
				0591 to Korea in 1972
				0592 to Korea in 1972
				0605 to Korea in 1972
				0610 to Korea in 1972
65-612/665		McDonnell F-4D-27-MC Phantom
				0620 to Korea in 1972
				0622 to Korea in 1972
				0623 to Korea in 1972
				0630 to Korea in 1972
				0640 to Korea in 1972
				0650 to Korea in 1972
				0663 to Korea in 1973, w/o
65-666/770   	McDonnell F-4D-28-MC Phantom
				0678 to Korea in 1972
				0679 to Korea in 1982
				0691 to Korea in 1972
				0709 to Korea in 1970, w/o
				0715 to Korea in 1972, w/o 9/25/78
				0732 to Korea in 1972
				0755 to Korea in 1982
				0762 to Korea in 1972
65-771/801		McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom
				0778 to Korea
				0786 to Korea
				0795 to Korea
				0797 to Korea in 1982  
					still in US as of 11/83
66-226/283 		McDonnell F-4D-29-MC Phantom
				0239 to Korea
				0274 to Korea
66-7505/7650 	McDonnell F-4D-30-MC Phantom
				7507 to Korea in 1987/88
				7555 to Korea in 1987/88
				7577 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7608 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7618 to Korea in 1987/88 
66-7651/7774 	McDonnell F-4D-31-MC Phantom
				7673 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7690 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7709 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7715 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7732 to Korea
				7737 to Korea in 1987/88  
					still in US as of 1/90 
				7747 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7750 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7753 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7758 to Korea in 1987/88 
				7762 to Korea in 1987/88 
66-8699/8786 	McDonnell F-4D-32-MC Phantom
				8701 to Korea in 1987/88 
				8734 to Korea in 1987/88 
				8737 to Korea in 1987/88 
				8756 to Korea in 1987/88 
				8758 to Korea in 1987/88 
				8759 to Korea in 1987
				8765 to Korea in 1987/88 
66-8787/8825 	McDonnell F-4D-33-MC Phantom
				8806 to Korea in 1987/88 
				8810 to Korea in 1987/88 
67-342/398		McDonnell F-4E-36-MC Phantom
				0369 to Korea (?)
68-303/365		McDonnell F-4E-37-MC Phantom
				0358 to Korea (?) still in US in Oct90
68-366/395		McDonnell F-4E-38-MC Phantom
				0387 to Korea (?), still in US Oct 90
				0390 to Korea (?), still in US Oct 90
68-488/494		McDonnell F-4E-40-MC Phantom
		 		0494 to Korea (?) still in US in Oct90
76-493/511		McDonnell F-4E-64-MC Phantom  
				new builds for Korea
78-727/744		McDonnell F-4E-67-MC Phantom   
				new builds for Korea


  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. Electronic mail from Ben Marselis

  4. F-4 Operators, World AirPower Journal, Vol 40, Spring 2000.