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The Lockheed F-104S Starfighter; Gilze-Rijen, July 2 – 8, 2002

The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter, part 4; Text and Photograph's by Alex van Noye

The Aeritalia F-104S Starfighter was a variant of the aircraft which was built under license in Italy. The AMI was the only F-104 user flying the aircraft from the 60s into the 21st century. Next to the Italian Air Force also the Turkish Air Force used the F-104S in interceptor and air defense role until the middle of the 90s.

The F-104 underwent a second phase of development after the F-104G was introduced. The USAF had lost interest in the F-104 while Lockheed introduced Model CL-901 with the new J79-GE-19 engine and the Sparrow III missile. This Starfighter would be known as the F-104S where the letter S stands for Sparrow. An RF-104G was modified in December 1966 and flew for the first time as the prototype CL-901 "Super Starfighter". The AMI had launched in the mid-60s the AW-X program with the requirement for a new all-weather fighter. The final choice of the AMI was the Lockheed CL-980. This was a simplified version with the same F-104 wings of Model CL-901. On January 26, 1966, the AMI definitively had chosen the F-104S as the future fighter. The F-104S is designed to carry the AIM-7 Sparrow missile. Applying these missiles was at the expense of the Vulcan board cannon. In the ground attack role the F-104S had nine suspension points. The aircraft was able to carry up to seven 227kg (500lb) and 340kg (750lb) bombs. This was a significant improvement compared to the F-104G. Usually the Starfighters were in this role configured with five bombs, two AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles and two drop tanks. The first F-104S Starfighters arrived in Italian service at the beginning of 1969. The F-104S was built in two versions, namely as an interceptor armed with AIM-7 Sparrow missiles and as a fighter-bomber with an onboard weapon and various bombs and other ammunition.

Italy would become the largest Starfighter user with this version. Also, Italy initially received a series of F-104Gs in the context of the Military Assistance Program. Fiat and Aeritalia built from 1962 105 F-104Gs, 24 TF-104Gs and 20 RF-104Gs. The existing fleet was later expanded with 205 licensed-built F-104S Starfighters. The aircraft were all built by Italian aircraft manufacturers. There were also another six extra TF-104Gs purchased which came from the West German Luftwaffe. From 1986, the AMI was the largest user of the F-104 Starfighter with 11 operational units. The

F-104G variants were deployed in Italy in the role of fighter-bomber. The F-104S was put into operation in the role of interceptor aircraft. The Italian Air Force had many Starfighter units, namely; the 3° Stormo at Villafranca, the 4° Stormo in Grosseto, the 5° Stormo at Rimini, the 6° Stormo at Ghedi, the 7° Stormo at Gioia del Colle, the 37° Stormo in Grazzanise, the 51° Stormo at Treviso/Istrana and 53° Stormo at Cameri/Novara. During the late 80s and early 90s all F-104Gs and RF-104Gs were replaced by other types of aircraft such as the Tornado and AMX. Also in the 90s, the number of F-104S aircraft was drastically decreased. Currently the F-104S is still flying at the 4° Stormo in Grosseto and the 37° Stormo at Grazzanise. These units are the last Starfighter units in the world which still fly the Starfighter. It is expected that the Starfighters of these units will be replaced by the Eurofighter EF2000 on a short term. The Starfighters will temporarily be replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon until the Eurofighter is available.

Turkey is a country which had used several variants of the F-104 Starfighter. Initially the country received 48 new F-104G Starfighters and six TF-104G Starfighters. The F-104G was provided by Canadair and the TF-104G was provided by Lockheed. All aircraft were delivered to Turkey as part of the Military Assistance Program. The F-104G variants were delivered from 1963. Between 1974 and 1975, 40 new F-104S Starfighters were delivered to the Turkish Air Force. The aircraft were all built by the Italian Fiat. The F-104S was in contrast to the F-104G in use in the role of interceptor aircraft. Turkey was next to Italy the second user of the F-104S. Turkey was like Greece a country which took over many Starfighters from other NATO countries where the planes had been phased out. The country received 170 former West German F-104G Starfighters, 53 former Dutch F-104G Starfighters and 52 former Canadian CF-104 Starfighters. The Turkish Air Force had four wings which flew the F-104, namely; 4 Ana at Akinci which consisted of the 141 Filo and 142 Filo, the 6 Ana in Bandirma which consisted of the 161 Filo and 162 Filo, the 8 Ana in Diyarbakir which consisted of the 181 Filo and 182 Filo and finally 9 Ana in Balikesir which consisted of 191 Filo 192 Filo and 193 Filo. Eventually the Turkish Starfighters were decommissioned in 1995. The Starfighter is in Turkey now replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

The F-104S-ASA (Aggiornamento Sistemi d'Arma) was developed in 1986. The aircraft received a Fiat R21G/M1 radar Setter with look-down capabilities and compatibility with the Selenia Aspide missile. The AIM-9L Sidewinder was used as the most important armament instead of the "B" and "F" version of this missile. The AIM-7 Sparrow missile was preserved, this missile was usually carried under the wings. A total of 147 of the F-104S airframes were converted to the ASA standard. The final ASA Starfighter was delivered at the beginning of the 90s. Due to the delay of the integration Aspide the first aircraft were upgraded to the ASA standard which is also referred to as the F-104S-ASA-1. Later, when the missile was available, the type has been updated to the ASA-2 standard. The bombers had no significant improvements in the ASA version and were later adapted to the interceptor role (CI) without the M61. F-104S-ASA-M (Aggiornamento Sistemi d'Arma/modificato) is a version of the F-104S-ASA which is again updated. In total there were 49 F-104S-ASA and 15 dual seat TF-104G aircraft upgraded to this standard since 1998. The F-104S-ASA-M received GPS equipment and a new TACAN and Litton LN-30A2 INS. The refurbished fuselage received improved cockpit displays. All equipment for ground attacks was removed and IRST was installed with infrared view of the windshield. The F-104S-ASA-M is the latest variant of the Starfighter which was developed. In the coming year the last Starfighters in the world will be phased out and replaced by the F-16 Fighting Falcon.

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