|Hellenic Air Force - Elliniki Polemiki Aeroporia
Andravida Air Base
The McDonnell Douglas F-4E(AUP) Phantom IIs of 117 Combat Wing (Pteriga Machis - 117 PM)
The McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II was originally developed for the United States Navy entering service in 1960, by 1963 it had also entered service with the US Marine Corps and the US Air force. It is a two-seat, twin-engine, all-weather, long-range supersonic interceptor capable of over Mach 2 and was designed to perform four roles; air superiority, interdiction, close air support and fleet defence.
Production ran until 1979 in the US and 1981 in Japan, by which time 5,195 had been built, of those, 2,874 went to the USAF and 1,264 to the Navy and Marine Corps, the rest were sold to foreign customers. The last US built F-4 went to Turkey in 1979.
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01503). The four antennas on the top of the nose are part of the Identification Friend-or-Foe (IFF) system and are nicknamed ‘bird slicers’. They were fitted as part of the Peace Icarus 2000 avionics update program.|
Initially the F-4 was designed without an internal cannon, however by 1972 with the F-4E variant an internally mounted 20 mm (.79 in) M61 Vulcan Cannon was added. Leading edge slats improved the variant’s high angle of attack manoeuvrability but adversely reduced its top speed. In 1973 F-4Es were fitted with target-identification systems for long-range visual identification of airborne or ground targets. The Pave-Tack system provided day and night all-weather capability to acquire, track and designate ground targets for laser, infrared and electro-optically guided weapons. A digital intercept computer that includes launch computations for AIM-9 Sidewinder and AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles was added.
The ‘Peace Icarus’ program
Hellenic Air Force (HAF) ordered 58 F-4E Phantom IIs in 1971 under the ‘Peace Icarus’ program deliveries started in 1974 and were completed in 1978.
The first unit to receive the F-4E was 339 ‘Ajax’ Mira based at Andravida converted from the F-84F Thunderstreak. 339 MPK is tasked with the all-weather interception role it is also the Phantom OCU (Operational Conversion Unit). 338 ‘Ares’ Mira which is also at Andravida, began to convert in 1975. 338 MPK is assigned the ground attack role.
In 1978 F-4Es and reconnaissance version RF-4Es were issued to 337 ‘Fantasma’ Mira at Larissa. 337 Mira converted from the Northrop F-5A at Nea Ankhialos. The RF-4Es were delivered to 348 ‘Matia’ Mira also at Larissa to replace the RF-84F in the reconnaissance role.
28 former and US Air National Guard F-4Es were delivered to Greece in 1991 and entered service with 338 Mira. In 1993 a further 29 ex-Luftwaffe RF-4Es were also issued to 348 Mira in 1994, the HAF Phantom fleet now totalled 121 aircraft.
Peace Icarus 2000
In 1997 38 F-4Es from the original 1971 contract were ear-marked for an upgrade under the ‘Peace Icarus 2000’ program by DASA of Germany and Hellenic Aerospace Industries (EAB) at Tanagra. The upgrade, designed to keep the aircraft flying until 2015 at least, included; the Raytheon Hughes AN/APG-65 radar, new colour multi-functional cockpit screens, new Heads Up Display (HUD) and a new Hands On Throttle and Stick (HOTAS) system, AMRAAM and AIM-9M capability and a Hazeltine AN/APX-113 IFF advanced friend/foe identification system (AFIDS).
The two part program consisted of ‘Peace Icarus 2000 (I)’ with aircraft from the serial range 72-1500 through to 72-1535. 72-1523 (nicknamed ‘Princess of Andravida’) served as the prototype it was updated in Manching, Germany and first flew in 1999. It was eventually returned in 2001 minus its nose-mounted cannon following weapons trials. The second part ‘Peace Icarus 2000 (II)’ utilised aircraft in the serial range 77-1743 through to 77-1760 with 77-1760 serving as the prototype.
The ‘Peace Icarus 2000’ F-4E AUPs (Avionics Update Programme) lost their original AIM-7 capability due to the new electronics and the launcher, which could only fire the AIM-120 missile. The program was completed in Greece in 2004 with the addition of the Rafael Litening II sensor pod for targeting and navigation for close air support weapons such as precision-guided bombs and Raytheon AGM-65 Maverick missiles and the advanced IRIS-T air-to-air missile. The F-4E(AUP) Phantoms were all delivered to 117th Combat Wing at Andravida painted in the ‘Aegean Ghost’ scheme.
The training route to the F-4E starts with 15 hours (originally 40) on the Cessna T-41 Mescaleroat Tatoi, then to Kalamata on the T-6A Texan II which invloves 130 hours flight training over two years. A further two years and 107 hours on the T-2E Buckeye and the student is ready for the F-4E OCU at Andravida. However before they can fly it they must first do 3.1/2 years in the backseat.
|338 'Ares' Pursuit Attack Squadron (Mira Dioxis Vomvardismou - 338 MDV)
338 MDV (yellow fin tip) is assigned the ground attack role.
| F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01524) touching down
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom IIs (01522 and 01524).|
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01524) lifting off.|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01524).|
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01528) with blue fin tip but operating from a 338 Mira shelter.|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01528) pre-flight checks. F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01510) with the 338 Mira's 60th anniversary scheme.
|Left to right: Inside the 338 Mira maintenance hangar F-4E(AUP) Phantom IIs (71743, 01517 the hangar queen and 015??).
|339 'Aias' All weather Interception Squadron (Mira Pantos Kerou - MPK)
339 MPK (no fin tip markings) is tasked with the all-weather interception role it is also the Phantom OCU (Operational Conversion Unit).
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01520).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01520).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (71755).|
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01528).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom IIs (01520 and 71758).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom IIs (01528 and 01520).|
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01505).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01505) painted with a 1974 to 2014 special tail for the 40 years anniversary event held at Andravida on September 12.|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01505).|
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01528).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom IIs (01528 and 71744).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01503).|
|F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (01505).|
|Left to right: F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (71744).|
|Left to right :F-4E(AUP) Phantom II (71745).|