The F-4 Phantom II is a twin engine, all weather, tactical fighter-bomber. It originally performed three tactical air roles: air superiority, interdiction and close-air support. The F-4 continues to serve in retirement as the QF-4 Aerial Target, an unmanned, high performance aerial target used for live air-to-air and surface-to-air missile tests.

In its air-to-ground role, the F-4 Phantom II could carry twice the normal load of a World War II-era B-17 bomber. Weapons and/or external tanks can be carried on nine external store stations. A typical configuration for an F-4C in 1967 consisted of four AIM-7E and four AIM-9B air-to-air missiles, and eight 750-pound Mk 117 bombs. The aircraft also carried two external fuel tanks on the outboard pylons and one ALQ-87 electronic countermeasures (ECM) pod on the right inboard pylon. The F-4E also had an internally mounted 20mm multibarrel gun with improved fire-control system.

When operating in the attack or close air support role, the aircraft normally carried air-to-air missiles for self protection.

First flown in May 1958, the Phantom II originally was developed for U.S. Navy fleet defense. The U.S. Air Force's first version, the F-4C, made its first flight in May 1963, and production deliveries began six months later. Phantom II production ended in 1979 after over 5,000 had been built -- more than 2,600 for the USAF, about 1,200 for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, and the rest for friendly foreign nations.

In 1965 the AIr Force sent its first F-4Cs to Southeast Asia, where they flew air-to-air missions against North Vietnamese fighters as well as attacking ground targets. The various incarnations of the F-4 scored more than 100 Mig kills in Vietnam.

The Phantom was the first multiservice aircraft, flying concurrently with the U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, and was the only aircraft ever flown concurrently by the Air Force and Navy flight demonstration teams, the Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels.

The aircraft continued to serve the Air Force, including a vital role in Desert Storm, until it was retired in 1996. 

General Characteristics
Primary Function: All-weather tactical fighter-bomber
Prime Contractor: McDonnell Aircraft Co., McDonnell Douglas Corp.
Power Plant: Two General Electric J-79-GE-15
Thrust: Each engine with afterburner 17,000 lbs.
Length: 58 feet 3 inches
Height: 16 feet 5 inches
Wingspan: 38 ft. 5 in. (27 ft. 7 in. folded)
Speed: 1,400 mph/1210 knots at 40,000 ft. maximum power
Ceiling: Above 60,000 ft
Maximum Takeoff Weight: 58,000 lbs
Range: 1,750 miles
Armament: Up to 16,000 lbs. of externally carried nuclear or conventional bombs, rockets, missiles, or 20mm cannon pods in various combinations
Crew: Two, pilot and Weapons Systems Operator
Inventory: There are 50 QF-4s currently in operation