Originally shared by +Fly By Photography
Today's fast jet is the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-4 is a two seat, twin engine jack of all trades. Designed in the mid '50s for the US Navy as an interceptor, the F-4 also took on the roll as a Navy and Marine Corps fighter-bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. The US Air Force latter purchased the F-4 for use as a fighter-bomber, air superiority fighter, reconnaissance platform and latter still converted many to Wild Weasel SAM suppression aircraft, hunting and killing surface-to-air missile sites and their associated tracking installations.
Over 5,000 F-4s were built between 1958 and 1981 with many being exported to countries friendly to the US. The F-4 weighed over 30,000 lbs. empty and had a maximum takeoff weight of over 61,000 lbs. It was powered by two General Electric J-79 engines capable of producing over 17,000 lbs. of thrust each and propelling the Phantom to speeds over Mach 2. The F-4 holds the distinction of being the only aircraft to be used by both the US Navy's Blue Angles and the US Air Force's Thunderbirds flight demonstration teams.
The last F-4s in active US service were retired in 1996. After retirement, some F-4s were converted to target drones. Of these converted drones, about a half dozen were set aside to participate in the USAF's Heritage Flight program. The Heritage Flights honors Air Force history and service members at airshows across the country. In my photo is one of the QF-4Es participating in the Heritage Flight at the 2012 NAS Oceana Air Show.
Heritage Flight F-4E Phantom II.