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South Korea plans to retire F-4 Phantom IIs in June

Four RoKAF Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-4Es conducted the fleet's final flight on 9 May 2024. The aircraft were painted in the various colour schemes used by the type over the course of RoKAF service, including a discontinued jungle camouflage pattern and a light grey scheme. Two aircraft were painted in the RoKAF's current dark grey colour scheme. (South Korean Ministry of National Defense)

The Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) is preparing to retire its Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) F-4E Phantom IIs in June 2024.

The fleet conducted final weapon launches and a cross-country flight as it prepares to wind down from service, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) said on 13 May. Four F-4E Phantom IIs took off from the RoKAF's Suwon Air Base on 9 May for the commemorative flight, the MND added.

According to the ministry, the cross-country flight had symbolic importance. The four F-4s, dubbed ‘Victory Squadron', flew over Pyeongtaek, where Camp Humphreys, which is emblematic of the US-RoK alliance, is located. The Phantom IIs also flew over the Port of Pyeongtaek-Dangjin, which is a key hub for naval traffic in the Yellow Sea (West Sea). The MND added that the Phantoms also flew over Cheongju Air Base, which is the RoKAF's core airbase.

The RoKAF's Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fleet currently operates out of Cheongju, according to Janes inventory data. This airbase, which is located in central-east South Korea, was the primary base for the RoKAF's F-4 force from 1979 to 2018, the MND noted.

The acquisition of F-4D Phantom IIs from 1969 allowed the RoKAF to make the transition from a “tactical air force” to a “strategic air force”, the MND said on 19 April.

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