You Really Have To Watch This Incredible Slo-Mo Video Of The Last Japanese Phantoms During Night Ops

A 501 Hikotai RF-4E launches for a night sortie from Hyakuri. (Image credit: screenshot from YT).

This footage is Phantom Porn.

All the remaining F-4 Phantoms of the Japanese Air Self Defense Force are stationed at Hyakuri Base. With the retirement of the F-4EJ “Kai” Phantom of the 302nd Squadron, that made its last flight with the type on Mar. 19, 2019 and then moved to Misawa air base to operate the JASDF F-35A 5th generation aircraft beginning on Mar. 26, 2019, the only remaining F-4 Phantoms units left at Hyakuri are a fighter squadron, the 301 Hikotai, and a reconnaissance squadron, the 501 Hikotai.

The 501 Reconnaissance squadron is scheduled to cease operations and become a fighter unit in March 2020 whereas the 301 Hikotai is slated to move to Misawa  to become the second F-35A unit later in 2020.

The 301 Squadron flies the grey F-4EJ “Kai” Phantom with the squadron emblem, a frog, on the tail; the 501 Reconnaissance Squadron is equipped with both the F-4EJ and the RF-4E/EJ types that sport the sharkmouth and the unit’s woodpecker mark on the tail.

While they prepare to retire their current aircraft type, the two squadrons continue to fly the F-4Es round-the-clock.

The video below shows, in stunning slow motion, the 301 and 501 Squadron Phantoms during night operations, usually carried out at the beginning of the week, on Tuesday (this is why Hyakuri F-4s flying at dusk/night are dubbed “Tuesday Moon Ghosts”).

It’s simply a pleasure to watch the last Japanese Phantoms taxi, take-off, go-around or land in the darkness.

The F-4EJ “Kai” (“extra”) is the latest Japanese variant of the Phantom that has been modernized from the EJ version in the mid-1980s with the installation of a new AN/APG-66J pulse-Doppler radar, a new central computer, a Kaiser HUD (Head Up Display), an AN/APZ-79 IFF system, as well as the ability to carry an AN/ALQ-131 advanced multimode electronic countermeasures pod and to launch the AIM-7E/F Sparrow and the AIM-9L/P Sidewinder AAMs (air-to-air missiles). The RF-4EJ is the reconnaissance version of the F-4E. It’s almost identical to the USAF RF-4C but it lacks a few systems (such as the radar homing and warning receiver suite) which were not released for export to Japan. The upgraded variant of the original RF-4EJ is designated RF-4EJ “Kai”.

H/T to Akihiro Kanai for sending us this awesome video!



About David Cenciotti 3886 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.