McDonnell F-4EJ Phantom II

Last revised October 7, 2014

The F-4EJ was a version of the F-4E developed for the Nihon Koku Jieitai (Japanese Air Self Defense Force, or JASDF). Since the Japanese armed forces were at that time forbidden by treaty from having even a hint of an offensive capability, the F-4EJ was optimized for the air defense role, the AN/ASQ-9A nuclear weapon control system, the AN/ARW-77 Bullpup ASM control system, the AN/ASQ-91 weapons delivery system, and the AN/AJB-7 bombing system all being omitted. There was no provision for the carrying or delivery of air-to-ground weapons. Aerial refuelling was limited to use in ground refuelling ports only.

Like the USAF F-4E, the F-4EJ was fitted with the Westinghouse AN/APQ-120 radar fire control system, the 20-mm M61A1 cannon with 640 rounds, plus AIM-7 and AIM-9 air-to-air missile capability. For navigation, the An/ASN-63 and the AN/ASN-46A navigation computer set were retained. It differed in having many Japanese-built electronic systems being fitted, including the Japanese-built J/APR-2 tail-warning radar, plus a Japanese-designed AN/APR-670 datalink system that interfaced with the Japanese BADGE (Base Air Defense Ground Environment) system. Externally, the F-4EJ differed from the USAF F-4 in having non-slatted wings and stabilators.

The F-4EJ was ordered on November 1, 1968. Two F-4EJs (JASDF serials 17-8301 and 17-8302) were built by McDonnell in St Louis and tested beginning on January 14, 1971. The next eleven (JASDF serials 27-8303/8307, 37-8307/8310, and 47-8311/8313) were built by McDonnell in kit form and were assembled in Japan by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Ltd. The first Japanese-assembled aircraft (27-8303) flew on May 12, 1972. Subsequently, Mitsubishi built 127 F-4EJs under license, bringing the total to 140. The last example was delivered on May 20, 1981. This was the last Phantom built.

As built, the Mitsubishi-built Phantoms were not fitted with inflight refuelling receptacles because of the treaty restrictions that forbade Japan to acquire offensive weapons. However, the hardware needed for such a capability was delivered and stored. Eventually, the restrictions were relaxed and the standard F-4E boom receptacle was retrofitted to most F-4EJs. I don't think that the JASDF has any midair refuelling aircraft, but the refuelling capabilities of the F-4EJ were used during training exercises with USAF KC-135s.

Fourteen unarmed reconnaissance versions of the F-4EJ were built by McDonnell and delivered to the JASDF between November 1974 and June 1975. They were designated RF-4EJ. They were virtually identical to the USAF RF-4C, with the only differences being the deletion of certain equipment such as the radar homing and warning suite. Because of the limited number of RF-4EJs required, there was no licence production of this variant in Japan.

The F-4EJ first entered service with the JASDF in August of 1972. In the JASDF, six interceptor squadrons (hikotai) have operated the F-4EJ. These were the 301st, 302nd, 303rd, 304th, 305th, and 306th. The RF-4EJ was operated by the 501st Hikotai.

In later years, the restrictions against the F-4EJ carrying offensive weapons were lifted, and the aicraft could carry Mk 82 500 lb and JM117 750 lb bombs. The Phantom could also carry the Japanese-developed GCS-1 IR guidance system for precision attacks.

Throughout the 1980s, the force of 140 F-4EJs gradually dwindled by attrition and reached 125 in 1992. Conversions to the F-15J began in the late 1980s. Since 1984, a major SLEP (Service Life Extension Program) was undertaken in which most JASDF F-4EJs were upgraded to F-4EJ Kai standards. Currently, the F-4EJ Kai serves with three hikotai, and should remain serving until well after the year 2000. This version will be described later.

The JASDF serials of the F/RF-4EJs were as follows. In the Japanese system of serial numbers, the first digit is the final digit of the year of delivery, the second digit identifies the aircraft type (7 for the Phantom).

McDonnell F-4EJ-45-MC Phantom 		17-8301/8302
							8301 c/n 4038
							8302 c/n 4044 
McDonnell F-4EJ-45-MC Phantom 		27-8303/8306 (last two assembled by Mitsubishi)
							8303 c/n 4049
							8304 c/n 4055
							8305 c/n 4059
							8306 c/n 4065 
McDonnell F-4EJ-45-MC Phantom 		37-8307/8310
							8307 c/n 4070
							8308 c/n 4076
							8309 c/n 4082
							8310 c/n 4089 
McDonnell F-4EJ-47-MC Phantom 		37-8311/8313 
							8311 c/n 4202
							8312 c/n 4203
							8313 c/n 4204
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			37-8314/8323 
							8314 c/n M11-001
							8315 c/n M11-002
							8316 c/n M11-003
							8317 c/n M11-004
							8318 c/n M11-005
							8319 c/n M11-006
							8320 c/n M11-007
							8321 c/n M11-008
							8322 c/n M11-009
							8323 c/n M11-010
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			47-8324/8352 (8324 to 8331 later renumbered with prefix 37)
							8324/8352 c/n M11-011/M11-039
							8343 w/o Oct 13, 1982.
McDonnell RF-4EJ-56-MC Phantom 		47-6901/6905 
McDonnell RF-4EJ-57-MC Phantom 		57-6906/6914 
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			57-8353/8376 
							8353/8376 c/n M11-040/M11-063
							8358 w/o Nov 10, 1986
							8363 w/o Nov 17, 1976
							8364 w/o Nov 17, 19778
							8370 w/o Jun 16, 1986
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			67-8377/8391
							8377/8391 c/n M11-064/M11-078
							8382 c/o Nov 10, 1986
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			77-8392/8403 
							8377/8403 c/n M11-079/c/n M11-090
							8396 w/o Jun 25, 1979
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			87-8404/8415
							8404/8415 c/n M11-091/M11-102 
							8405 w/o Aug 24, 1978
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			97-8416/8427
							8416/8427 c/n M11-103/M11-114 
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			07-8428/8436
							8428/8436 c/n M11-115/M11-123
							8430 w/o Oct 28, 1982
							8432 w/o Oct 29, 1984. 
Mitsubishi F-4EJ 			17-8437/8440 
							8437/8440 c/n M11-124/M11-127

McDonnell RF-4EJ			47-6901/6905
							6901 c/n 4551
							6902 c/n 4565
							6903 c/n 4574
							6904 c/n 4582
							6905 c/n 4590
McDonnell RF-4EJ			57-6906/6914
							6906 c/n 4596
							6907 c/n 4603
							6908 c/n 4608
							6909 c/n 4616
							6910 c/n 4621
							6911 c/n 4626
							6912 c/n 4634
							6913 c/n 4639
							6914 c/n 4645


  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  2. McDonnell F-4 Phantom: Spirit in the Skies. Airtime Publishing, 1992.

  3. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  4. United States Military Aircraft Since 1909, Gordon Swanborough and Peter M. Bowers, Smithsonian, 1989.

  5. Koku Phantom, Yoshitomo Aoki, Air Forces Monthly, March 2000.

  • Construction numbers from