$26.5M to Kill 20 More Phantoms
BAE Systems Integrated Defense Solutions in Austin, TX received a $26.5 million firm-fixed-price with time and material and cost contract modification for production lot 13 of QF-4 Full-Scale Aerial Targets (FSAT) and associated technical support. The 20 aircraft will be divided between the USAF (16) and the US Navy (4). This is the 3rd option of 5 exercised under an Air Force contract signed in 1992 and in effect until 2013. Work will be complete July 2009, and the Headquarters Special Applications Systems Group at Eglin Air Force Base, FL issued the contract (FA8675-04-C-0214/No modification number at this time). See also BAE’s April 12/07 release.
The F-4 Phantom II fighter still flies with a number of air forces, including Egypt, Germany, Greece, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, and possibly Iran. QF-4s are former F-4s that currently sit in storage at the AMARC “Boneyard” near Tucson, AZ. They are refurbished for flight at AMARC, then flown to BAE in Mojave, CA and fitted with remote-control equipment in a process that takes about 160 days. Once fitted for the UAV role, they are used as aerial targets and decoys for testing against air-air missiles, radars, surface-air missiles, et. al. It’s financially prudent, and fitting for an old warrior – but sad, too, somehow. The 200th QF-4 was delivered in September 2006, and as of April 2007 BAE Systems has converted 217 F-4s to the QF-4 configuration.
UPDATE: Thanks to the readers who wrote in to say that Spain no longer flies Phantoms. DID had believed that some RF-4C reconnaissance variants were still operating, but Spain apparently retired its last RF-4Cs in 2002.