The German air force is to send ten McDonnell Douglas F-4F Phantoms to Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, on 14 January, in a move towards upgrading its US-based F-4 training squadron.

The F-4Fs will replace F-4Es now used by the service for training at the base. A further 14 F-4Fs will follow by the end of this year. Eight of the F-4Es now at Holloman are owned by the German air force, while the others are US property. All will be scrapped once replaced.

The F-4E is similar to the basic F-4F, but the German air force believes that the dissimilarities introduced by the Improved Combat Efficiency (ICE) upgrade - including navigation upgrades, the integration of the Hughes APG-65 radar and AIM-120 AMRAAM missile capability - are too great.

Eight of the 24 F-4Fs which will eventually go to Holloman will have the full ICE upgrade, while the remainder will have only the improved navigation system.

In total, 110 of the German air force's 149 F-4Fs are being upgraded to ICE standards, while the rest will get only the navigation upgrade. Some of the latter are to be based at Hopsten, Germany, for European acclimatisation training.

The first ten aircraft flying to Holloman have been drawn from all the air force's five Phantom-equipped interceptor wings.

The F-4 training squadron, formerly the 1st German air force training squadron, has recently become part of the air force's new Tactical Training Command USA, which also includes the Holloman-based Tornado training squadron. Forty-eight Tornados are scheduled to be based at Holloman by the turn of the century.

Source: Flight International