West German F-4F airplane model. The F-4F (Model 98NQ) was a version of the USAF F-4E built explicitly for the West German Luftwaffe. After having considered the Dassault Mirage F.1, the Lockheed CL-1200 Lancer, and even a single-seat fighter version of the Phantom under the designation F-4E(F), the Luftwaffe opted for 175 two-seat F-4Fs.
The F-4F emerged as a lighter and simpler F-4E which was significantly cheaper and incorporated major components that were manufactured in Germany. The number 7 fuselage fuel tank was removed, and all Sparrow equipment was eliminated. The AN/APQ-120 radar was simplified, with no beacon search or constant wave illuminator being provided for Sparrow or Falcon missile launches. Although no inflight refueling receptacle was initially fitted, the internal plumbing needed for midair refueling was installed at the factory. An unslotted tailplane was used as an economy and weight-saving measure. The F-4F as originally designed lacked the capability of carrying nuclear weapons and it could not carry or launch certain air-to-ground missiles such as the Maverick, Shrike, or Walleye. The design that finally emerged was 3300 pounds lighter than the stock F-4E.
Between November 1980 and late 1983, Luftwaffe F-4Fs were retrofitted with inflight refueling receptacles and were upgraded with the capability of firing the Sparrow missile as well as the ability to handle the AGM-65 Maverick and the new AIM-9L Sidewinder. They were provided with a digital weapons computer and improved electronic countermeasures equipment, cockpit displays, and all-weather systems.