It's Better to Fade Away Than to Burn Out

Marine F-4


Not everyone has been eager to retire its F-4s. Iran bought 225 F-4 Phantom jets in the 1970s, and several dozen are still operational. Spare parts are obtained via a smuggling network, with some of the less complex parts manufactured inside Iran. This effort is the result of decades of sanctions that prevent Iran from buying new jet fighters. Other countries continue to use F-4s because the aircraft are sturdy and still effective as bombers.

Of the 5,195 F-4s manufactured, some eight percent are still in service, plus a hundred converted to be unmanned targets for the U.S. Air Force.

That’s StrategyPage, on the news that Germany finally retired that last of its F-4 fleet. The plane wasn’t a new design when my father-in-law flew one over North Vietnam over 40 years ago. It’s been said on many occasion that the Phantom is proof that you make make anything fly, given powerful enough engines.