Phantom with Egypt

Last revised April 1, 2000




Ever since 1948, Egypt and Israel had been implacable enemies and had fought four wars and countless border clashes against each other. The Camp David agreement of 1978 brokered by President Jimmy Carter between Egypt and Israel finally brought an end to the era of military confrontation between these two nations.

Prior to the Camp David agreement, the Al Quwwat al Jawwiya il Misriya (Arab Republic of Egypt Air Force) had relied on the Soviet Union for its military equipment and on its oil-rich Arab neighbors for financial aid. Unfortunately, Egypt's Arab backers regarded its agreement with Israel as a sellout, and in July 1979 they canceled all financial support of Egypt. In particular, Saudi Arabia abruptly cancelled its previous agreement to purchase a batch of 50 Northrop F-5Es and give them to Egypt. As a substitute, the State Department agreed to supply Egypt with 35 ex-USAF F-4Es. In exchange, Egypt agreed to turn over some of their MiG-21s and MiG-23s to the USAF, these planes presumably being needed by various intelligence agencies for black operations :-).

The project was given the name Peace Pharaoh, and first deliveries of F-4Es to Egypt took place in September of 1979. These first F-4Es were taken from the 31st TFW based at Homestead AFB. They were initially operated by two squadrons (Nos 76 and 88, also quoted as Nos 88 and 89) of the 222nd Fighter Regiment. The Egyptian pilots, used to the far simpler MiG-21, found the Phantom quite a handful. In particular, Egyptian ground maintenance crews found that the Phantom was a much more complex aircraft than those they were previously familiar with and was much more difficult to service and maintain. Serviceability and availability rates were quite low for several years--at one time during the early 1980s the Egyptian air force found it difficult to raise as many as nine serviceable Phantoms. By 1982, Egypt was so displeased with its Phantoms that they considered selling their planes to Turkey in exchange for some more F-16s. However, rigorous training programs were put in place in collaboration with the USAF, and the picture slowly improved. By 1985, the serviceability condition had improved considerably, and Egypt ultimately decided to hold on to its Phantoms.

In 1988, seven more ex-USAF Phantoms werre provided to Egypt. There were no further Phantom deliveries, since the Egyptian air force has decided to acquire large numbers of F-16 Fighting Falcons as its primary fighter aircraft.

At least three Phantoms have crashed, but have been replaced by 67-0328, -0332, and -0366. The surviving F-4Es equip two squadrons of the 222nd Fighter Regiment based at Cairo West. So far, they have only undergone structural upgrade programs.

The following is a table of known serial numbers of USAF Phantoms delivered to Egypt. Where known, the Egyptian serial number is given in parentheses. I would appreciate being informed of any errors or omissions in this table.

66-298/338		McDonnell F-4E-32-MC Phantom
			 	0337 to Egypt in 1980	
66-339/382 		McDonnell F-4E-33-MC Phantom
 				0340 to Egypt in 1980 (7814)
 				0341 to Egypt in 1980 (7823)
 				0343 to Egypt in 1980 
 				0349 to Egypt in 1980, w/o 8/22/83 
 				0353 to Egypt in 1980 
 				0358 to Egypt in 1980 
 				0360 to Egypt in 1980 (7802)
 				0362 to Egypt in 1980 
 				0364 to Egypt in 1980 (7801) 
 				0366 to Egypt in 1980 (7813) 
 				0375 to Egypt in 1980 (7801) 
67-208/219		McDonnell F-4E-33-MC Phantom
 				0211 to Egypt in 1980  
 				0212 to Egypt in 1980 (7825) 
 				0213 to Egypt in 1980  
67-220/282		McDonnell F-4E-34-MC Phantom
 				0220 to Egypt in 1980 (7831) 
 				0231 to Egypt in 1980  
 				0236 to Egypt in 1980  
 				0238 to Egypt in 1980 (7811)  
 				0239 to Egypt in 1980   
				0242 to Egypt in 1980
 				0264 to Egypt in 1980 (7809)   
 				0278 to Egypt in 1980 (7835)   
67-283/341		McDonnell F-4E-35-MC Phantom
 				0289 to Egypt in 1980 (7817)   
 				0305 to Egypt in 1980 (7820)   
				0307 to Egypt in 1980 (7816)
 				0309 to Egypt in 1980    
 				0313 to Egypt in 1980 (7815)    
 				0317 to Egypt in 1980 (7806)    
 				0322 to Egypt in 1980 (7812)    
				0328 to Egypt as replacement
 				0332 to Egypt as replacement (7824)    
 				0341 to Egypt in 1980 (7832)    
67-342/398		McDonnell F-4E-36-MC Phantom
 				0355 to Egypt in 1980     
 				0366 to Egypt as replacement    
 				0371 to Egypt in 1980     
 				0373 to Egypt in 1980     

Sources:


  1. McDonnell Douglas Aircraft Since 1920: Volume II, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1990.

  2. McDonnell F-4 Phantom: Spirit in the Skies. Airtime Publishing, 1992.

  3. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  4. Boeing/McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II Current Operations, World AirPower Journal, Vol 40, Spring 2000.