The F-4 Phantom II is a two-seat supersonic long-range all-weather fighter-bomber originally developed for the U.S. Navy by McDonnell Douglas as the Navy's first modern fleet defense fighter, but by 1963, the aircraft had been adopted by the U.S. Air Force for the fighter-bomber role. The Phantom flew in numerous variants in US service from 1960 to 1996; it also served with the armed forces of 11 other nations. When production ended in 1981, 1,195 Phantom IIs had been built, making it the most numerous American supersonic military aircraft. As of 2001, more than 1,000 F-4s remained in service around the world.
Shortly after its introduction, the Phantom set 16 world records, including an absolute speed record of 1,606.342 miles per hour (2,585.086 km/h), and an absolute altitude record of 98,557 feet (30,040 m). Although set in 1959-1962, five of the speed records were not broken until 1975. Until the advent of the F-15 Eagle, the F-4 also held the record for the longest continuous production with a run of 24 straight years.
The F-4 Phantom II was also the only aircraft used by both of the USA’s flight demonstration teams. The U.S.A.F. USAF Thunderbirds (F-4E) and the USN Blue Angels (F-4J) both switched to the Phantom for the 1969 season; the Thunderbirds flew it for five seasons, the Blue Angels for six.