F-4 Phantom II

An American-built two-seat fighter jet that entered US service in the 1960s, the F-4 Phantom II has seen extensive operational use (both in the Air Force and in the Navy for the US, as well with other nations), including a high degree of success in air combat, downing many Soviet-built aircraft.

It has been exported to 11 countries, seven of which still use it, including Turkey and Iran. Former operators include the UK, who used both carrier and land-based variants and the Federal Republic of Germany.

The F-4 has had a large number of variants over the years - initially, it was not fitted with an internal gun, but later acquired one in light of US experience over Vietnam. Iran fields the F-4D, RF-4D and F-4E variants, purchased from the US during the days of the Shah, with some upgrades since, although many have been lost over the years, including in the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq War.

The F-4's primary assets include high thrust capability its very large warload (8,400 kg) and range of weapons it can carry, as well as having a two-man crew. However, it is not the most agile of aircraft, it lacks the look-down-shoot-down radar capability of modern fighters and the engines are notoriously smoky.

Pilot advice

Iran is likely to use these in a ground attack or maritime strike role - using missiles like the AGM-65 Maverick and the C-802 to attack targets at a limited distance. The Sparrow capability gives it a BVR capability, so should be engaged as far away as possible.

In a dogfight, it can be out-turned fairly easily.