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2022: The year of the Phantom?

As the vast majority of the playerbase celebrates the 2022 as the year of the Apache, we, the few, look forward to that tiny bit of spoiler left by Eagle Dynamics in their traditional end-of-year video, eagerly awaiting to jump in the rear seat of one of the most iconic aircraft ever built.

I was abroad when the video was released, now that I am back, I can finally watched ED’s video:

Let’s have a better look at the last few frames:

After a couple of minutes with LibreOffice Draw, I approximated this sketch (I drew only what looks quite clear, not every detail):

When compared to the F-4’s gunsight, it is quite close. The following are two frames from a gun kill scored by an Israeli F-4 crew on 21/11/1972; the unfortunate target is a MiG-21 (Source: Israeli F-4 Phantom II Aces. Bloomsbury Publishing.).

Other aircraft that may claim the gunsight are the F-104 Starfighter or the F-105 Thunderchief, but their gunsights appear different from the one in the video.

Note, however, that the gunsight can change depending on the version / block. One of the most blatant cases is the F-14 and the HUD we are all familiar with, and the SparrowHawk upgrade.
Time will tell is this is really the correct aircraft being developed. What is certain, is that an F-4 is coming at some point, but there is no official announcement yet.

Guess the Dev!

Here is the question: who is making the F-4?

  • We know that Heatblur has a “secret” module that will ship before the A-6.
  • HB has recently launched the Forrestal, plus they are collaborating with TrueGrit.
  • HB has developed a brilliant AI to enamb.
  • We know that the module displayed at the end of ED’s “YYYY and beyond” videos is made by ED.
  • Furthermore, we know that Belsimtek was working on the F-4E before merging with ED and moving to other projects (Viper).
  • We also know that, during a recent interview (in Russian, here is the discussion in r/hoggit) the F-4 was mentioned, but the developer was not specified.

In all likelihood, Eagle Dynamics is working on the F-4. If that’s the case, we will surely get the F-4E, although and additional naval variant would be more than welcomed (see HB and Aerges, and their multiple-variants F-14 Tomcat and Mirage F1).

The following are some images released by Belsimtek before the merge with ED.

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F-4: Why the hype?

The F-4 is certainly one of the most awaited modules of DCS. But why?

Flexibility and Popularity

The Phantom II demonstrated superb flight characteristics, flexibility and adaptability to almost any possible task: from air-to-air to air-to-ground, from reconnaissance to suppression of enemy air defences. Eventually, even as a target.

Those qualities are reflected in its longevity and popularity: introduced in the early 60s, it is still in service today! More than a dozen countries use or used the F-4 for the most disparate tasks. For example:

  1. United States: AF, Navy, Marines, NASA. Up to the 90s;
  2. UK: from late 60s to mid-90s;
  3. Israel: from late 60s to mid-200s;
  4. Iran: from late 60s, still in service;
  5. Germany: from early 70s, to 2013.

Here is a more detailed and complete list (Wikipedia).

The World Wars fighter

The F-4 Phantom was employed in an incredible amount of conflicts all over the world: from Vietnam to patrolling the European skies and seas during the Cold War, to the wars in the Middle East under Israel’s Star of David, and the never-ending war between Iran and Iraq.
In its long and varied operative life, the Phantom II has seen a plethora of opponents, and used a wide array of weapons. These aspects enable a ton of new settings and scenarios for DCS missions makers and players, on top of finally providing a key asset for the increasingly popular Cold War servers (I’ll be damned if I ever managed to find a free F-14 RIO slot!).

A new challenge

Let’s be honest: after a few hundred hours, flying as Radar Intercept Officer in the F-14 Tomcat feels… easy. The AWG-9 may be obsolete to modern standards, but it is still incredibly powerful, providing a level of SA unmatched by any other aircraft not flown by a computer and LINK16-dependant. Its weapons are great and easy to use, both the AA and the AG, and it is a very effective platform both in BVR and WVR, proving a more than capable adversary even versus modern fighters.
The F-4 Phantom II is surprisingly similar to the F-14 Tomcat in many aspects (someone called the F-14 the “Phantom III“) but, depending on the version developed, has several technological drawbacks: from the lack of slats, internal gun, and the subpar AIM-7 of the earlier models, to the advent of tough opponents, such as the MiG-25 and, later, the MiG-29, which make the tech difference much more pronounced than the Tomcat.

Iranian F-4E – From an F-5E / F-14A Campaign I’m working on.

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