Open main menu

List of Lockheed F-104 Starfighter operators

Former F-104 Starfighter Operators

The List of Lockheed F-104 Starfighter operators lists the countries and their air force units that operated the Lockheed F-104 Starfighter.


Military operators

Belgium  · Canada  · Republic of China  · Denmark  · Germany  · Greece  · Italy  · Japan  · Jordan  · Netherlands  · Norway  · Pakistan  · Spain  · Turkey  · United States

Civilian operators United States

Summary of production by country

See also  · References  · External links

Military operatorsEdit

A Belgian F-104


Belgium operated F-104G and TF-104Gs. They served with four squadrons: 23 and 31 (fighter-bombers), 349 and 350 (interceptors), and finally an OCU unit. In total 101 SABCA-built F-104Gs and 12 TF-104G built by Lockheed were purchased (one F-104G crashed before delivery). The Belgian Air Force operated the type from 14 February 1963 to 19 September 1983; some survivors were sent to Taiwan (23 aircraft) and Turkey (18 aircraft). Thirty-eight F-104G and three TF-104Gs were lost in accidents.

Belgian Air Force


Canadian CF-104

The RCAF, and later the unified Canadian Forces, operated 200 Canadian-built CF-104s and 38 dual-control trainer CF-104Ds (built by Lockheed) between 1962 and 1986. CF-104s were equipped with additional electronic equipment, with a Radar warning receiver function, in the tail and under the nose. Losses were high, with around 110 crashes in Europe. Its heavy usage, mainly at low-level for bombing and reconnaissance missions was a major factor, while bad weather conditions contributed to almost 50% of the accidental losses. The airframes had an average of 6,000 flying hours when phased-out; triple that of Germany's F-104s. Surplus CF-104s and CF-104Ds were later transferred to Denmark, Norway, and Turkey.[1]

Royal Canadian Air Force


Danish F-104G

Denmark initially received 25 F-104G and four TF-104Gs under the Mutual Defense Assistance Act during 1964-65. Surplus Canadian license-built aircraft were transferred between 1971–73 (15 CF-104 and 7 CF-104D). A total of 51 Starfighters were operated by Denmark before their retirement in 1986. Fifteen surplus F-104Gs and three TF-104Gs were transferred to Taiwan in 1987.[2]

Royal Danish Air Force used the F-104s as interceptors.


Starfighters of JG 74 in 1965.
Luftwaffe TF-104G at Luke AFB in USAF colours, 1982.
A German Navy F-104G in 1984.

Germany received 916 F-104s, comprising 749 F/RF-104Gs, 137 TF-104Gs and 30 F-104Fs,[4] forming the major combat equipment of both the Luftwaffe and Marineflieger. At its peak in the mid-1970s, the Luftwaffe operated five F-104 -equipped fighter bomber wings, two interceptor wings and two tactical reconnaissance wings. The Marineflieger operated a further two wings of F-104s in the maritime strike and reconnaissance roles.[5]

The Starfighter entered service with the Luftwaffe in July 1960,[6] with deliveries continuing until March 1973,[7] remaining in operational service until 16 October 1987,[8] and continuing in use for test purposes until 22 May 1991.

The two squadrons operating the RF-104G were re-equipped with RF-4E Phantoms in the early 1970s.

The Marineflieger initially used AS.30 command guidance missiles as anti-ship weapons, but these were replaced with the more sophisticated and longer-ranged radar-guided AS.34 Kormoran missile, allowing stand-off attacks to be carried out against enemy ships.[9] German Starfighters proved to have an alarming accident rate. In German service, 292 of 916 Starfighters crashed, claiming the lives of 115 pilots.



HAF F-104G from 335 Squadron, painted in a "Tiger" scheme.

Greece received 45 new-built F-104G and six TF-104s under the Military Assistance Program. These were supplemented by second-hand Starfighters passed on from other NATO air forces, including 79 from Germany, seven from the Netherlands and nine from Spain. The Starfighter entered Greek service in April 1964, equipping two wings, leaving service in March 1993.[10]

Greek Air Force


A formation of Italian F-104Ss.
An Italian F-104S at Bitburg Air Base, 1988.

In the Italian Air Force, the F-104 was a mainstay from the early 1960s until the end of the 20th century. The first flight for an Italian F-104G was a Lockheed-built aircraft, MM6501, on 9 June 1962; however, the first Fiat/Aeritalia-built example flew two years later on 5 October 1962. Italy initially received a total of 105 F-104G, 24 TF-104G and 20 RF-104Gs, becoming operational in March 1963. This fleet was later increased by the addition of 205 built under license by Aeritalia F-104S aircraft and six ex-Luftwaffe TF-104Gs bringing the total number of aircraft operated to 360. In 1986 the AMI was the largest operator with eleven units flying the Starfighter operationally. Up to 1997, Italy lost 137 (38%) of its F-104s in 928,000 flying hours (14.7 aircraft every 100,000 hrs). The F-104 was officially retired from AMI service during a large ceremony at Pratica di Mare in 2004.

Aeronautica Militare Italiana


A JASDF F-104J in 1982.
JASDF F-104J exhibited near Hokkaido Chippubetsu city in 2006.

The JASDF operated 210 F-104J air-superiority fighters and 20 dual-control trainer F-104DJs. Called Eiko ("Glory"), they served from October 1962 to 1986, losing only 3 airplanes in this time including a mid-air collision accident. Seven air-superiority squadrons used them: 201, 202, 203, 204, 205, 206, 207. Japanese F-104s faced intrusive Soviet airplanes during this long service. Twenty two[11] of the Japanese F-104s were eventually converted to drones for aerial target practice. 31 F-104J and five F-104DJ[11] aircraft were sold to Taiwan.[12][13][14][15]

Japan Air Self-Defense Force


Jordan F-104 at the Moath Kasasbeh memorial

Jordan received 29 F-104A and four F-104B aircraft delivered under the Military Assistance Program in 1967. Controlled by the United States these aircraft were moved temporarily to Turkey during the Arab–Israeli Six-Day War. Replaced by the Northrop F-5 and Dassault Mirage F1 by 1983, the survivors serve as airfield decoys.

Royal Jordanian Air Force


Dutch F-104 displayed in the Militaire Luchtvaart Museum Soesterberg (Netherlands)

The Netherlands operated European-built F-104s with the exception of the TF-104G. These were delivered directly from Palmdale to the KLu. A total of 138 Starfighters were delivered to the Koninklijke Luchtmacht (Royal Netherlands Air Force, or KLu).[16] Many Dutch aircraft were transferred to Turkey.

Royal Netherlands Air Force


Royal Norwegian Air Force Lockheed RF-104G Starfighter

Norway received 18 surplus CF-104s and four CF-104Ds from Canada in 1974, the country had initially received 19 Canadair built F-104Gs and four TF-104Gs in 1963 under the Military Assistance Program. The F-104 was phased out of Norwegian service in winter 1982.

Royal Norwegian Air Force


Pakistan was the first non-NATO country to be equipped with the F-104, a total of 12 F-104A and 2 F-104B were delivered; nine F-104A (tail numbers 56-803, 56-804, 56-805, 56-807, 56-868, 56-874, 56-875, 56-877, 56-879) and two F-104B (tail numbers 57-1309, 57-1312) on 5 August 1961,[17] although some sources say the first two were landed at Sargodha Airbase (now Mushaf Airbase) by Sqn Ldr Sadruddin and Flt Lt Middlecoat in 1962.[citation needed] One more F-104A was delivered on 8 June 1964 (tail number 56-773) and another on 1 March 1965 (tail number 56-798). These were ex-USAF aircraft retro-fitted with the more powerful J-79-11A engine and, at the PAF's request, the 20 mm Vulcan gatling gun was re-installed after removal by the USAF. These F-104s had unusually high thrust to weight ratios due to the older but lighter airframe and more modern engines.[17] The F-104 was in service for 12 years with 11,690 flight hours, 246 hours 45 minutes of these in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan War and 103 hours 45 minutes in the 1971 Indo-Pakistan War, after which five F-104 remained and were grounded by lack of spares due to a U.S. embargo on military equipment. The type was phased out in late 1972.[17]

Pakistan Air Force


Spanish F-104G Starfighter.

The Spanish Air Force received their F-104s under the Military Assistance Program: 18 Canadair-built F-104Gs and three Lockheed-built TF-104Gs were delivered under MAP to Spain's Ejército del Aire in 1965.[18] These aircraft were transferred to Greece and Turkey when they were replaced by F-4 Phantoms in 1972. It is notable that no aircraft were lost through accidents during 17,000 hours of operational use in Spain although the aircraft was used only in its intended role of an interceptor and mainly in very good flying weather.[19]

Ejército del Aire

 Taiwan (Republic of China)Edit


ROC operated a total of 282 aircraft funded by the Military Assistance Program (MAP); a mixture of new-build and surplus F-104A, -B, -D, -G, -J, -DJ, RF-104G, and TF-104G were used. The Starfighter was phased out of Taiwanese service by 1997.[20]

Republic of China Air Force


Aeritalia F-104 S Star Fighter in Istanbul Aviation Museumin.

Turkey received 48 new-build F-104Gs and six TF-104Gs from Lockheed and Canadair production, funded under the Military Assistance Program, which were delivered from 1963, and directly purchased 40 new F-104S interceptors from Fiat in 1974–75.[21] In addition, like Greece, Turkey received large numbers of surplus Starfighters from several NATO nations in the 1970s and 1980s, including 170 ex-German aircraft, 53 aircraft from the Netherlands and 52 from Canada. In total, Turkey received over 400 Starfighters from various sources, although many of these aircraft were broken up for spares without having been flown. The F-104 was finally retired from Turkish service in 1995.[22]

Turkish Air Force

  United StatesEdit

USAF 475th TFS F-104Cs in Vietnam, 1965.
United States Air Force
Air Force Systems Command
Tactical Air Command
Air Defense Command / Aerospace Defense Command
Air National Guard

Civil operatorsEdit

  United StatesEdit


Eleven F-104s (different versions) were operated by NASA between 1956 and 1994. Aircraft were used in support of the X-15 and XB-70 flight testing and were also used for astronaut training during various spaceflight programs. NASA F-104 aircraft were used to gather flight research data including aircraft handling characteristics, such as roll inertia coupling, and reaction control systems as used in the NF-104A and X-15. Space Shuttle thermal protection tiles were tested in flights aboard a Starfighter on a rig which simulated flight through rain. NASA's Starfighters flew many safety chase sorties in support of advanced research aircraft over the years, including the wingless lifting body aircraft. Neil Armstrong was one notable pilot who flew a NASA F-104.[23]

The "Starfighters" prepare for a demonstration.
The Starfighters F-104 Demo Team

The team based in Clearwater, Florida currently operate three Canadair CF-104 Starfighters, performing at air shows across the United States and Canada. Their CF-104s consist of a two-seat CF-104D Serial#:104632 (registered as N104RB), and two single-seat CF-104s Serial#s: 104850 (registered as N104RD) and 104759 (registered as N104RN). The aircraft were originally operated with the Royal Canadian Air Force and all later served with the Royal Norwegian Air Force before being imported into the U.S. in the early 1990s.[24]

F-104RB "Red Baron"

Another civilian Starfighter, called the F-104RB (for Manfred von Richthofen, the "Red Baron"), was used to set the low-level speed record in October 1977 by world-famous air racer Darryl Greenamyer. Greenamyer built his F-104 over a period of 12 years from parts scrounged from various places, including a "borrowed" J79-17/1 turbojet from a McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom, which developed over 2,000 pounds more thrust than the standard J79-19 engine. Greenamyer attacked the record at Mud Lake, near Tonapah, Nevada, and beat the previous low-level speed record by recording a top speed of 988.26 mph (1,590.41 km/h) after five passes over the dry lake. He remained supersonic for most of the 20-minute flight, and rarely rose much higher than 100 feet above the lake bed. Several months later, while practicing for an attempt on the world absolute altitude record, he was forced to eject when his landing gear failed to extend; a belly landing in the F-104 was considered too dangerous to attempt.

Summary of production by countryEdit

Source: F-104 Starfighter in action[25]
Operated Lockheed Canada Germany Netherlands Belgium Italy Japan
USAF 297 297
USAF/MAP 250 110 140
Canada 238 38 200
Japan 230 23 207
Germany 917 240 283 255 89 50
Netherlands 138 14 99 25
Belgium 112 3 109
Italy 354 12 342
subtotals Grand: 2536 737 340 283 354 198 417 207

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ Stachiw and Tattersall 2007, p. 47.
  2. ^ Schrøder, Hans (1991). "Royal Danish Airforce". Ed. Kay S. Nielsen. Tøjhusmuseet, 1991, p. 1–64. ISBN 87-89022-24-6.
  3. ^ page 64, 153 & 154 in Jan Jørgensen: "Flyvevåbnet - Scenes from Danish military aviation history", 2010, Nordic Airpower, ISBN 978-87-993688-0-8 (in English)
  4. ^ Jackson 1976, p. 21.
  5. ^ Jackson 1976, p. 22.
  6. ^ Jackson 1976, p. 20.
  7. ^ Fricker and Jackson 1996. p. 72
  8. ^ Sgarlato 2004
  9. ^ Fricker and Jackson 1996. p. 56
  10. ^ Fricker and Jackson 1996, p. 93
  11. ^ a b F-104 Retrieved September 30, 2017
  12. ^ ROCAF F-104 Retirement Retrieved September 30, 2017
  13. ^ Preserved in Taiwan International F-104 Society Retrieved September 30, 2017
  14. ^ 916 Starfighter Retrieved September 30, 2017
  15. ^ Ejection History - Taiwan Retrieved September 30, 2017
  16. ^ Baugher's F-104 to the Netherlands Archived 26 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 6 February 2008
  17. ^ a b c "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 9 June 2011. Retrieved 12 February 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  18. ^ Baugher's F-104G Spain delivery Archived 26 January 2008 at the Wayback Machine Retrieved: 6 February 2008
  19. ^ Bowman 2000, p. 164.
  20. ^ ROCAF F-104 retirement Retrieved: 6 February 2008
  21. ^ Fricker and Jackson 1996, p.98
  22. ^ Fricker and Jackson 1996, p.99
  23. ^ NASA F-104 history page
  24. ^ Starfighters F-104 Demo Team Retrieved: 6 February 2008
  25. ^ Drendel 1976, p.5.


  • Bowman, Martin W. Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. Ramsbury, Marlborough, Wiltshire, UK: Crowood Press Ltd., 2000. ISBN 1-86126-314-7.
  • Drendel, Lou. F-104 Starfighter in action, Aircraft No. 27. Carrollton, Texas: Squadron/Signal Publications, 1976. ISBN 0-89747-026-5.
  • Fricker, John and Paul Jackson. "Lockheed F-104 Starfighter". Wings of Fame. Volume 2, 1996, pp. 38–99. Aerospace Publishing. London. ISBN 1-874023-69-7.
  • Jackson, Paul A. German Military Aviation 1956-1976. Hinckley, Leicestershire, UK: Midland Counties Publications, 1976. ISBN 0-904597-03-2.
  • Stachiw, Anthony L. and Andrew Tattersall. CF-104 Starfighter (Aircraft in Canadian Service). St. Catharine's, Ontario: Vanwell Publishing Limited, 2007. ISBN 1-55125-114-0.

External linksEdit