The final McDonnell Douglas QF-4 Phantom aerial target has joined the US Air Force’s 82nd Aerial Target Squadron in November to head for a certain distruction in the near future.
The Phantom became legendary during the war in Vietnam and has according to many aviation enthousiasts one of the most impressive fighter looks ever. The particular final machine turned into remotely controlled aerial vehicle has serial 68-0599 and spent the last 20 years in the desert storage of AMARG in Arizona.
The supersonic, reusable QF-4 provides a realistic full-scale target for air-to-air weapons system evaluation, development and testing. The 82nd ATRS will eventually launch the QF-4 on an unmanned flight where it will act as a target for a modern piloted jet. The QF-4 as an aerial target replaced QF-106s in 1998. Fifty QF-4s alone were delivered during the last four years. But with the end of the legendary aircraft in sight, the QF-4s role will be taken over by newer QF-16s in 2014. The first QF-16 already flew (SEE WITH VIDEO!).
Of the more than 300 QF-4s delivered, about 250 were actually destroyed during a mission for which it was designed for: shot and killed in the air above the Gulf of Mexico or New Mexico aerial combat ranges near Holloman AFB. About 60 QF-4s currently remain at Tyndal AFB and Holloman AFB.
The Air Force first flew the F-4 in 1963 with the aircraft seeing first combat in 1965 against North Vietnamese fighters.