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McDONNELL DOUGLAS' F-4 PHANTOM CELEBRATES 35TH ANNIVERSARY

 ST. LOUIS, May 27 /PRNewswire/ -- Three McDonnell Douglas RF-4C Phantom IIs from the Alabama Air National Guard's 117th Reconnaissance Wing landed today at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport, 35 years to the day since the very first Phantom II made its maiden flight from the same airport.
 Following that first flight on May 27, 1958, McDonnell Douglas produced 5,057 F-4 Phantom IIs at its plant here. Although production ended in October 1979, approximately 1,200 Phantom IIs are still in service, including one specially painted by the Alabama Air National Guard to commemorate the 35th anniversary of the F-4's first flight. That aircraft is on display at the McDonnell Douglas facility today.
 The most dominant combat aircraft of its era, the two-seat, twin- jet, all-weather, supersonic Phantom II is a versatile multimission air-superiority fighter, fighter-bomber, advanced interceptor, ground support, tactical strike and reconnaissance aircraft.
 Preliminary design work on the Phantom II began in the summer of 1953, and its first flight occurred on May 27, 1958. The Phantom II entered service in 1961 as a carrier-based fleet air defense fighter for the U.S. Navy. In June 1962, the U.S. Marine Corps received its first F-4s and, upon entering U.S. Air Force service in February 1963, the Phantom II became the first tri-service fighter.
 The Phantom II set numerous world records. On Nov. 22, 1961, it reached an average speed of 1,606.3 Mph in two runs over a 15- to 20-kilometer course. In April 1972, a modified F-4 became the first fighter to fly with fly-by-wire flight controls.
 The Phantom II entered combat for the first time in August 1964, when the "Ghostriders" of Navy squadron VF-142 took it into combat as fighter escorts on the first U.S. raid against North Vietnam.
 Twenty-seven years later, 48 F-4Gs of the U.S. Air Force's Wild Weasel squadrons flew more than 2,500 combat sorties in Operation Desert Storm. Flying from the first night of the conflict, F-4Gs "fought a merciless electronic war, identifying Iraqi radars, locking onto them, and shooting them with missiles, even as the sky around them filled with SAMs (surface to air missiles)," the Air Force reported in its September 1991 report on Desert Storm. More recently, F-4 Phantom IIs carried out allied military strikes on Iraq in Operation Southern Watch.
 In addition to serving U.S. military forces, the Phantom II also has served the military forces of the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Israel, Spain and Australia. Several countries have upgraded their F-4s to extend aircraft service well beyond the year 2000.
 -0- 5/27/93
 /CONTACT: Paul Guse of McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, 314-232-7286/


CO: McDonnell Douglas Aerospace ST: Missouri IN: ARO SU:

JB-LS -- LA024 -- 2991 05/27/93 13:24 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:May 27, 1993
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