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On 9 May 2024 the Republic of Korea Air Force (RoKAF) marked the imminent retirement of its fleet of F-4E Phantom II fighters with a farewell flight of four F-4Es over South Korea.

The four Phantoms, from the 10th Fighter Wing’s 153rd Fighter Squadron (the last ROKAF unit to operate the type), embarked on a three-hour flight around South Korea that covered several airbases with an RoKAF F-4 connection, flying for part of their journey in formation with a pair of KF-21 Boromae fighters. The KF-21, which will ultimately replace the ROKAF’s Phantom II and F-5E/F Tiger II aircraft, first flew on 19 July 2022 and is expected to attain an initial operating capability (IOC) by 2026.

For part of their farewell flight on 9 May 2024 the four RoKAF F-4Es flew with a pair of KF-21 Boromae fighters. (Photo: via RoKAF)

The four F-4Es that conducted the farewell flight wore special liveries for the occasion:  one sported a jungle camouflage pattern that was used by ROKAF Phantoms from the type’s adoption in 1969 until the 1980s, another features a two-tone light grey camouflage pattern that saw use from the late 1980s until the early 1990s, while the remaining two aircraft kept the current RoKAF dark grey livery but featured a special decal that translated as ‘From the hands of the people, to the hearts of the people: 1969-2024’.

The RoKAF first began operating F-4Ds in 1969 and ultimately operated around 220 Phantoms in three different versions: the F-4D, RF-4C and F-4E. While two batches of F-4Es were delivered as US Foreign Military Sales, all the other Phantoms were former US Air Force aircraft.

The RoKAF will officially retire its last operational F-4Es during a ceremony at Suwon Air Base on 7 June 2024, ending 55 years of South Korean Phantom operations. After that only Greece, Turkey and Iran will still be operating the Phantom, which first entered service with the US Navy in December 1960.

The four RoKAF F-4Es that conducted the type’s farewell flight on 9 May 2024 wore special liveries for the occasion. (Photo: RoKAF)