McDonnell Douglas F-4E-2020 Terminator - Phantom II (77-0296) from the Turkish Air Force at the RIAT 2019, RAF Fairford (United Kingdom)
Special painted tail to celebrate 60 years of the F-4 Phantom (1958 - 2018; F-4 PHANTOM - 60 YEARS of SERVICE)
Turkey is one of the last bastions of the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom and two of them will be gracing the static display of this year's Air Tattoo. Turkey, along with Greece, are the last operators in Europe of this large twin-engined fighter jet which was developed as a carrier-borne fighter for the United States Navy. According to Flight International, Turkey operates 49 of the 'E' variant, having withdrawn from service its RF-4E tactical reconnaissance in 2015. The F-4E-2020 are upgraded models, with improvements made by Israel Aerospace Industries. The aircraft provided for RIAT 2019 are from 111 Filo "Panterler" (111th Squadron "Panther") based at Eskişehir in northwest Turkey.
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II is a tandem two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic jet interceptor and fighter-bomber originally developed for the United States Navy by McDonnell Aircraft. It first entered service in 1960 with the Navy. Proving highly adaptable, it was also adopted by the United States Marine Corps and the United States Air Force, and by the mid-1960s had become a major part of their air arms. The Turkish Air Force received 40 F-4Es in 1974, with a further 32 F-4Es and 8 RF-4Es in 1977–78 under the "Peace Diamond III" program, followed by 40 ex-USAF aircraft in "Peace Diamond IV" in 1987, and a further 40 ex-United States Air National Guard Aircraft in 1991. The latest in a long line of F-4 variants, the Terminators are a batch of Turkish Air Force F-4Es, modernized by Israel on the pattern of the Kurnass 2000. They differ from the existing F-4E airframe in a number of key areas, including new attachment fittings to better handle modern weaponry, stronger wing fold ribs, an updated canopy sill bar, and the replacement of some 20 km of wiring (reducing weight by 750 kg) as well as most hydraulic and pneumatic lines and hoses. These upgraded F-4 Phantoms are referred to as the F-4E-2020 Terminator. 54 were modernized and they will be in service until at least 2015 and perhaps longer (29 still in use as of 2019). They first entered service on 27 January 2000 with deliveries to 111 and 171 Filo.
The Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) is the world's largest military air show, held annually over the third weekend in July,
usually at RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire, England in support of The Royal Air Force Charitable Trust.
The show typically attracts a total of 150.000 to 160.000 spectators over the weekend.