About This File
F-4 Phantom II in Royal New Zealand Air Force service ('What If')
In mid 1964 Operational Requirement No. 5/Air called for a tactical combat aircraft to replace the Canberra. Specifically a long range aircraft with the primary role of counter-air/interdiction and secondary roles of close air support and air defense.
In June 1965 The Chief of Air Staff, Air Vice-Marshal (AVM) Morrison was quoted as wanting 18 F-111 aircraft for the RNZAF at a cost of £1.5 million per aircraft. The public and media supported the idea but the Chief of Defense Staff (who was a Naval Officer) and the acting Prime Minister publicly opposed the purchase.
In August 1965 the Chiefs of Staff Committee rejected the idea of acquiring long-range interdiction aircraft and in September agreed that close air support should be the primary role of the new combat aircraft.
In December came Air Staff Requirement No. 12 with the following requirements of the new combat aircraft:
- Ability to provide effective air support to ground forces.
- Highly reliable and robust
- Self defense capability to evade or counter supersonic interceptors and surface-to-air missiles.
- Long range.
- Ability to operate closely with American and Australian forces.
By May 1966 the RNZAF had finished evaluating six candidate aircraft:
- F-4C Phantom II
- A-7A Corsair II
- Mirage IIIO
- F-5A Freedom Fighter
- F-104G Starfighter
- A-4E Skyhawk
In August 1966 the RNZAF officially asked the government to purchase 16 F-4 Phantoms at a total cost of £19 million.
Now remember AVM Morrison making it known he wanted the F-111? He would later go on to admit he never wanted the F-111 he had wanted the F-4 all along but given the cost of the F-4 he wanted to make it look more attractive (cost wise) by putting it next to the F-111.
The minister of Defense then announced the final stage of the evaluation had been reached and a decision was a few weeks away. The purchase of the F-4 seemed to be all but done...
BUT the Treasury department now intervened and recommended purchasing the F-5! The RNZAF High Command was furious! But ultimately powerless to halt the path to purchasing the A-4 Skyhwak that had just begun.
Over the next year the RNZAF, Cabinet Defense Committee, Treasury, the Finance Minister and the Chief of Defense wrangled over purchasing the F-4 or an alternative (F-5 or A-4). Then at the end of 1967 the New Zealand Currency was devalued and a squadron of F-4 Phantoms was now instantly out of New Zealand’s price range. It was either 11 Phantoms or 16 Skyhawks. So the Skyhawk it was.
So if the Treasury Department hadn't intervened in the procurement process towards the end of 1966 it seems entirely likely that New Zealand would have placed and order for the F-4 Phantom II at the end of that year!
And so I give you the F-4D Phantom II in RNZAF Service 1969 to 2002.
I chose the F-4D as when the order would have likely been placed in late 1966/ early 1967 the F-4D was the current USAF production model as the first of the F-4E models were only just being built as part of the USAF F-4D contract.
The RNZAF F-4D models are built to the same standard as the last USAF F-4D coming off the production line in the late 60's. However like the A-4K in real life they are 'fitted for but not with' ECM/ RHAW equipment. This means the wiring, sensors and cockpit RHAW display are installed but the actual 'black box' control units are not.
The reason for this (as in real life with the A-4K) was not an economy measure as most references state (including the Third Wire manual) but because the equipment was in such demand by US forces for use in Vietnam. So the aircraft were delivered without them but with the intention of fitting them at a latter date. However that day simply never came and this is possibly where the additional cost of purchasing/ installing them played a part in it not happening.
The Kiwi F-4D Phantoms are capable of caring the full range of the USAF Phantom arsenal including first generation smart weapons. However only the Mk 82/83/84 series bombs and unguided rockets are used by the RNZAF. For the air-to-air role the SUU-23/A gunpod, AIM-7E and AIM-9E are chosen with the AIM-4 Falcons performance in Vietnam causing the RNZAF to steer well clear of it.
Four separate Aircraft:
F-4D Phantom II RNZAF - Initial aircraft delivered in 1969 fitted for but not with ECM/ RHAW equipment.
F-4D Phantom II (72) RNZAF - By 1973 the redundant RHAW display has been removed from the cockpit as well as the empty IRST pod under the nose that was to house the RHAW gear.
F-4D Phantom II (78) RNZAF - Second hand attrition aircraft from USAF stocks delivered in 1985 in preparation for the project Kahu upgrade of the fleet.
F-4D Phantom II (88) Kahu RNZAF - In 1986 a comprehensive $140 million upgrade program is undertaken. Known as project 'Kahu' the heart of the upgrade is replacing the old AN/APG-109 radar with the modern AN/APG-66(NZ) multi-mode radar. The cockpit is modernized with glass displays, HOTAS and a Ferranti wide-angle HUD. Survivability in increased with the ALR-66 RWR and ALE-40 countermeasure dispensers. The MIL-STD 1553B databus and Litton Industries LN-93 inertial navigation system are also installed. The airframes and engines are completely stripped down and given a life extension with almost all of the aircraft wiring replaced. A smoke abatement system is added along with low voltage formation lights.
The aircraft also receive armament upgrades including the capability to fire AIM-9L, AIM-7M, AGM-65B/G and GBU-10 Paveway II laser-guided bombs. The old F-4 Phantom external center drop tanks are also replaced by the F-15 600 gallon HPC tanks as on USAF Phantoms. By the end of 1991 all New Zealand and ex USAF Phantoms have been upgraded to the 'Kahu' standard.
More sceen shots and the full 'what if' story here: http://combatace.com/topic/86994-f-4-phantom-ii-in-royal-new-zealand-air-force-service/
you will need one of the SF2 games with the F-4D as well the Third Wire DLC A-4K Skyhawk for the decals.
Included in a separate folder is a RNZAF F-4D for use with the SF2V Air & Ground War Expansion Pack. This is the Kiwi F-4D fitted with the required ECM and stores for operations in the Vietnam War.
Released under CombatAce Fair-Use terms.