The Hellenic Air Force Has Retired Its Last RF-4E Phantom Jets

The HAF has bid farewell to its last “recce” Phantoms.

On May 4, Larissa airbase, Greece, hosted the spotter day for the final flight of the Hellenic Air Force RF-4E, the last “recce” Phantoms in Europe. With the phase out of the last Greek RF-4E, Iran and Japan remain the last operators of the reconnaissance variant of the “Rhino” (how the Phantom is dubbed in the aviation community).

Indeed, the 348 MTA (Tactical Reconnaissance Squadron), one of the oldest and most historic Hellenic Air Force squadrons, was disbanded on May 5, after 64 years of operations, with its last three RF-4s finally retired from active service: the example serialled 7499, that sported a brand new special livery; the old special colored 7450, and the 71765, an RF-4E still wearing the Southeast Asia camouflage color scheme.

A static and flying display were arranged to celebrate the event.

The photographs in this article were taken at Larissa by The Aviationist’s contributors Alessandro Fucito and Tony Lovelock on May 4 and 5, 2017.

The last RF-4E in Greek service still sporting the Vietnam-era color scheme.
The old special color of the 348 Mira: the 7450
The 7450 was prepared in 2013 to celebrate the 60 years of 348 TRS and 40 years of Phantom operations.
The new “End of the Film” special color lands during the Spotter Day on May 4, 2017.
The RF-4E 7450 takes off in front of the photographers to take part in the Spotters Day’s flying display.
The last three Recce Rhinos perform a flypast in formation with HAF Mirage 2000 and F-16C.
The final trio overflying Larissa in formation.
The Mirage 2000EG 239 of the 332 Mira that took part in the flypast along the RF-4Es.
F-16C “508” departs to rejoin with the RF-4Es and Mirage 2000.
The accompanying Mirage 2000 and F-16C break the formation.
The last Greek RF-4E special color taxing after landing.
M2000-5BG Mark II “505” performing a low passage. Several HAF aircraft flew their training sorties during the retirement celebrations.
F-16D “600” of the 337 Mira.
Among the aircraft in static display there was also this preserved RF-84F Thunderflash in silver color scheme “37683” formerly belonging to 337 Mira.

 

About David Cenciotti 4416 Articles
David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

8 Comments

  1. If you ask me the F-4 would still make for a good jamming platform. Or a weapons truck. Put a next-gen jammer on it, AESA, panoramic cockpit displays, conformal fuel tanks, other upgrades, and you would have yourself a fast, cheap, capable EW aircraft/shooter.

    Perhaps Greece, a nation with severe financial issues but vital to NATO, should reconsider. But of course they won’t. That leaves only Japan and Turkey. Just saying – even today this 1950s fighter could be used to fill a vital defense roll if a country wanted to take advantage of it. Cheap, effective. FAST! To think it was put on the drawing board only 10 years after WW-II ended. That is simply amazing!

    • Greece still has around 35 F/4 E’s, upgraded in 2002 with the AN/APQ-65 YG radar. They serve as bombers, even scamble sometimes

      • Smart move on the part of Greece. There’s still life left in these smartly designed fighter-bombers.

  2. We salute the last… In Greece we called the pilots of the F-4s “φαντομάδες” (phantom&mans)

  3. I was told the nickname Rhino for the F-18 E/F was re-born on deck to avoid confusion with legacy hornets over catapult settings

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