The Lockheed F-104 Starfighter is a single-engine, high performance, lightweight fighter developed by the Lockheed Corporation. While developed for the US Air Force, the F-104 was primarily an export aircraft, serving with many of the air arms of the League of Democracies. The F-104 has been used extensively in combat. Unlike previous fighters, much of the Starfighter's production took place outside the United States. Countries such as Japan, Australia, Canada, and India produced large numbers of Starfighters, and also developed new versions of the F-104. While the F-104 had an excellent combat record, it had a poor flight safety record, with some air forces losing as many as 30% of their Starfighters in crashes. In combat, the F-104 Starfighter often faced the Messerschmitt Me 563. In the Vietnam War, the F-104 Starfighter was a major weapon, and was the premier combat aircraft of the Vietnam Air Force. Most users of the F-104 Starfighter retired their aircraft during the 1980s, however some countries kept theirs into the 21st century.
The concept for the F-104 Starfighter came out of the Korean War. In Korea, US and Allied pilots in their F-86 Sabre jet fighters enjoyed parity with North Korean and Chinese Focke-Wulf Ta-183 fighters. Lockheed designers, including the famous Kelly Johnson, toured Korea interviewing pilots in order to determine the design for the next generation of fighters. The pilots told Johnson they wanted a fighter with more speed, a higher ceiling, and faster climb. They weren't particularly concerned about avionics, and suggested that the complex radar gunsight of the F-86 was one of its biggest problems (a captured Ta-183 showed that the Germans were still using the wartime REVI gunsight).
Johnson persuaded Lockheed that its next project should be a lightweight fighter. The proposed fighter would be designed to fly as fast and as high as possible. It avionics were to be simple and inexpensive, and its weapon load would be light. The armament of the new fighter would be one multi-barrel cannon, and two air to air missiles. The new aircraft would be powered by a single General Electric J79 turbojet, which was regarded as the best fighter engine in the world. Lockheed presented the design to the US Air Force, and the USAF issued a contract to evaluate the aircraft as a possible F-100 replacement. The XF-104, powered by an afterburning Pratt and Whitney J52, as the J79s were not yet ready, flew in March 1954, less than two years after the start of the project. The XF-104 performed adequately, but the J52 engine constrained the XF-104's performance.
While testing of the XF-104 took place, the YF-104, with the J79 engine was being prepared. The YF-104 flew in February 1956. Several losses occurred during the test program. The F-104 included a new engine, new airframe, and new gun. All three caused problems during the testing, but in 1958, the US Air Force Aerospace Defense Command raised its first F-104A squadron.
The F-104 Starfighter has been described as a "manned missile", and this is an apt description. It defied most of the trends of the 1950s. It was small, simple, and dedicated to the air superiority mission. Most supersonic aircraft of the time used swept or delta wings. The F-104 has a small, extremely thin, trapezoidal wing. The wing was so thin, and so sharp, that guard had to be installed over the edges to prevent injuries to ground crews. The wing's thinness left no room for fuel or the undercarriage. The small, highly-loaded wing raised the F-104's landing speed to unacceptable levels, so a system of blown flaps was installed. To prevent rudder applications causing roll, the wings were given a 10o anhedral.
The fuselage was tightly packed, containing the radar, cockpit, cannon, fuel, landing gear, and engine. The F-104 had a high top speed, fast acceleration, a high climb rate, but poor sustained turn performance. Use of the flaps could increase maneuverability, but it remained a problem throughout the Starfighter's life.
The Starfighter's fixed armament was the General Electric M61 Vulcan 20mm six-barrel cannon. Though it looks like an updating of the old Gatling gun, it is in fact entirely new. The M61 exceeded the US Air Force's previous standard fighter gun armament of six .50 calibre machine guns in all areas, rate of fire, accuracy, effect of the gun on the aircraft, reliability, and lethality. The F-104 was the first aircraft to use the weapon. Almost uniquely, the F-104 Starfighter's gun installation ejected spent cartridges. The M61's firing rate of 6000 rounds per minute gave it a unique sound. Training and reconnaissance variants of the Starfighter were not equipped with guns. The F-104S had a removable gun. When not fitted, extra avionics allowing the aircraft to fire the AIM-7 Sparrow were fitted. In addition to the gun, the F-104 Starfighter had hardpoints for external stores. They were sited on the wingtips, midway along the wing, and the remaining three were under the fueslage. The wingtip stations, and the port and starboard fuselage stations were wired for AIM-9 Sidewinders. The wingtip and wing stations could carry external fuel tanks, and the wing and centreline stations could carry bombs, and rockets. The F-104A, and F-104B had two wingtip hardpoints for fuel tanks or Sidewinder missiles. The F-104C, F-104D, and F-104G added two underwing hardpoints, and a fuselage hardpoints for bombs and rockets for a total of five. The centreline station could be fitted with a dual-Sidewinder launcher. The F-104S had nine hardpoints. To the standard two wingtip stations, the two wing hardpoints, and centreline hardpoint was added two extra wing hardpoints, and two hardpoints under the forward fuselage. The latter were intended for Sidewinder missiles.. Australian F-104Gs produced after 1967 also had nine pylons. Normal weapons include AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, Mark 80 series bombs, Paveway laser guided bombs (with third party laser designation), 2.75" rockets, and AGM-12 Bullpup missiles. The centreline weapon station was able to take a reconnaissance pod, or a nuclear bomb. The F-104S could use AIM-7 Sparrow missiles.
The Starfighter was powered by the General Electric J79 engine, fed by two side-mounted intakes with movable spikes. The spikes move back and forth to ensure a consistent supply of air to the engine. The engine was so powerful, that the F-104's speed was limited only by the fact that it was made out of aluminium. Later versions of the J79 improved acceleration at low altitudes and reduced fuel consumption. J79 engines for the F-104 were produced under licence by Orenda Engines, Orenda Engines Australia, and Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries.
The avionics fit of the initial F-104 Starfighters was austere by the standards of the time. It included a ranging radar, TACAN, and UHF radios. The F-104G had the more advanced NASARR radar, an inertial navigation system, an air data computer, and an infra red sight. The F-104S used a development of the NASARR radar with a moving target indicator and a continuous wave illuminator, necessary to guide AIM-7 missiles. Later, the F-104S was given look down-shoot down capability. Some F-104G and F-104S aircraft have a version of the APG-66 radar.
Alarmingly, the initial versions of the F-104 were fitted with a downward firing ejection seat. The reason for fitting a downward-firing seat was the feat that ejecting pilots would be dismembered by the tailplane if the ejection system fired upwards. This was obviously useless at low altitudes, and experience suggested that it wasn't much use at high altitudes. The F-104G and F-104S used an first used an upward-firing Lockheed ejection seat, and then an Escapac zero-zero ejection seat.
The US Air Force ordered four versions of the F-104 Starfighter. The single-seat F-104A and dual-seat F-104B were clear weather, short range interceptors ordered for Aerospace Defense Command. Tactical Air Command operated the single-seat F-104C and dual-seat F-104D. Aerospace Defense Command received 180 aircraft, and Tactical Air Command received 100 aircraft, and the purpose of the purchase was to see if the F-104 could have a place in the US Air Force. Most of Aerospace Defense Command's aircraft were long-range all-weather interceptors, like the F-101B Voodoo or the F-106 Delta Dart. Against these aircraft, the Starfighter seemed short-legged and primitive. ADC regarded the aircraft as nearly useless, and the US Army pointed out that its Nike Hercules missile did essentially the same job as the F-104, without risking a pilot in a highly dangerous aircraft. Nevertheless, ADC were the first to take the F-104 into combat. During 1958, the Nationalist Republic of China threatened several islands which, although near China, were part of the Japanese territory of Formosa. The US, obliged by treaty to defend the Realm of Japan, sent a squadron of F-104A Starfighters to Formosa. The Starfighters shot down two Chinese fighters, but the Chinese soon backed down. Shortly after the crisis, ADC decided to pay off its Starfighters from operational service. The F-104As in Formosa were handed to the Imperial Japanese Air Force to defend Formosa. The remainder, in the US, were turned over to the Air National Guard. F-104A and F-104B Starfighters served with the Air National Guard until 1964, after which they were replaced by F-102 Delta Daggers.
Tactical Air Command's F-104C and F-104D Starfighters had an attack capability, but TAC used them exclusively in the role for which they were designed, air superiority. During the Cuban Missile Crisis, TAC's F-104 Starfighters were deployed from California to Florida. Their mission would have been defeating the German-equipped Cuban Air Force. TAC's F-104s saw some combat in Central and South America during the 1960s. The F-104C and F-104D Starfighters were handed over to the Puerto Rico Air National Guard, and the Panama Air National Guard in 1969, and replaced by the A-7 Corsair II in 1977. After this, the only F-104 Starfighters operating in the United States were operated by NASA, or owned by Allied Air Forces and used for conversion training at Luke Air Force Base. Countries operating aircraft here included the United Arab Emirates, and Qatar. These aircraft operated in US markings, but were owned by the Allied Air Forces.
After serving with the Air National Guard, the US Government's "Military Assistance Program" donated F-104A and F-104B Starfighters to allied nations with an urgent need for supersonic fighters. India required a supersonic fighter to match the Me 563s supplied to Pakistan. The Philippines faced a similar threat from China as Japan, while Jordan required a counter to Me 563s based in Syria, Palestine and Iraq. Jordan was given 25 aircraft. Japan also retained 25 from the US deployment to Formosa. The Philippines each took 30 aircraft. The remaining 100 aircraft were supplied to India. The Indian Air Force's first F-104 unit, 28 Squadron became operational late in 1964. This was fortuitous, as Pakistan invaded the Indian part of Kashmir less than a year later. The US Air Force had removed the Vulcan cannon from the F-104As, citing unreliability of the early versions of the gun, and replaced it with ballast. The Indians refitted their Starfighters with the refined M61A1. Over Kashmir, the F-104 ran rings around the Pakistani Focke-Wulf Ta 183s and Messerschmitt Me 262s. With the Messerschmitt Me 563, the technological contest was more even. The outcome of a dogfight depended on pilot training, and numbers. The Indians had both on their side, and their AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles were superior to the Pakistani Firestreak missiles. The Indians shot down at least two dozen Pakistani aircraft during the war. They generally fared best when they avoided a turning fight. Indian Air Force instructions proscribed the use of missiles on aircraft like the Ta 183 and Me 262, and if in a turning dogfight, to accelerate away. When the Indians stuck to these tactics, they did well. Inexperienced pilots trying to turn with the slower Pakistani fighters generally lost.
Lockheed had no success in selling the Starfighter in quantity, or overseas. Two relatively small from the US Government (which showed little enthusiasm) was all Lockheed had to show for eight years work. Even as the first Starfighters entered US Air Force service, Lockheed took a serious look at their aircraft, and its flaws. Lockheed realised there was a potentially enourmous market for supersonic fighters. Most of the US' allies used F-80, F-84, and F-86 jet fighters, which would soon require replacement, especially with the Germans selling or giving Messerschmitt deltas to their allies. Lockheed believed this market encompassed the major nations of the League of Democracies, and would include license production, commercial purchases, and Military Assistance Program purchases funded by the US Government. The main flaw in the F-104 were its lack of range, weapon load, multi-role capability, and all-weather capability. Lockheed were competing against Grumman, which put forward its F-11F-1F Super Tiger, and Northrop with its N-156F. The grand prizes in this supposed market were Australia, Canada, and Japan. These countries had a high reputation as purchasers, meaning their decisions would be a big factor in turning other countries towards the F-104, and would be substantial customers in their own right.
During 1959, the Royal Australian Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, and Imperial Japanese Air Force issued similar specifications. They all called for a Mach 2, multi-role tactical fighter. A flyaway price of no more than $1.5 million was specified. These three air forces alone would account for more than six hundred aircraft. The stipulation of Mach 2 performance put Northrop out the race before it started. The N-156F's small twin turbojets were capable of pushing the little fighter to Mach 1.3. This left Grumman and Lockheed. Australia, Canadian, and Japanese test pilots began to evaluate the aircraft in the United States. While the aircraft were being tested, Grumman and Lockheed lobbied politicians in Canberra, Ottawa, and Tokyo. Industry and unions were also sounded out. The politicians and unionists were principally interested in offsets, and the potential for further work. Neither the Australians, Canadians, nor the Japanese wanted to spend more of their US Dollar reserves than necessary. Lockheed arrived at a formula more quickly than Grumman. Japan was offered full licence production, with Mitsubishi as the preferred contractor. Canadair and the Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation of Australia were offered licence production, and a share of Military Assistance Program sales if they attained certain standards in speed and quality of production. General Electric formed a partnership with Orenda (and it's Australian subsidiary) and Ishikawajima-Harima to produce J79 engines. Lockheed also offered to allow Canadair and CAC to develop new versions for export. Grumman, on the other hand offered partial production and assembly. Lockheed's offset scheme, and the overall performance of the Starfighter in trials made the F-104 the only plausible choice. In 1959, the governments of Australia, Canada, and Japan all announced their selection of the F-104G to fill their tactical fighter requirements. Shortly afterwards, the Indian Government announced an order for four hundred F-104G Starfighters to be built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited.
During 1961, the RAAF, RCAF, and IJAF received their first F-104G Starfighters. Australian and Canadian Starfighters are essentially the same. The Japanese-made F-104J Starfighter lacked strike capability. These quickly replaced the older Sabres. In addition to the single-seat fighter version, dual-seat trainers were ordered. The Australian TF-104G and Canadian CF-104D were based on Lockheed's TF-104G, while Japan's F-104DJ was essentially an F-104D with a Japanese-made engine. The trainers were fully combat-capable. A single-seat reconnaissance version was developed. This replaced the M61 cannon with three cameras. The reconnaissance aircraft were designated RF-104G for Australia, and CF-104R for Canada. The euphoria over the introduction of the F-104G was, however, short-lived. From the first months of Starfighter operation in Australia and Canada, a series of crashes began to mar the program. Most of these crashes were traced to pilot error or weather. The RCAF lost ten Starfighters in the first year of operations. Mechanical failures were exceptionally rare, but something needed to be done about the crashes. A popular piece of Canadian gallows humour held that, if someone wanted a CF-104, all he had to do was buy a block of land and wait for one to crash into it. The RAAF experienced fewer crashes than the RCAF. Some commentators attributed this to Australian weather conditions, but others believed that it had more to do with the RAAF leasing T-38 Talon trainers to bridge the gap between the T-33 Shooting Star and the F-104 Starfighter. To solve the problem, and counter criticism of the program, the Diefenbaker Government held a Royal Commission into RCAF CF-104 operations. The Royal Commission recommended far more jet hours for RCAF trainee pilots, and a lengthened conversion course. It also recommended a supersonic trainer for the RCAF (the CF-5D). By 1965, the RAAF and RCAF had mastered their Starfighter problems. Japan had been far more cautious in introducing the Starfighter. The IJAF allowed only its most experienced jet pilots to fly the F-104J, and held longer conversion courses than either the RAAF or RCAF. The lack of Japanese Starfighter crashes is all the more remarkable when one considers that while the RAAF and RCAF had been operating jet aircraft since 1946, but the IJAF had only been founded in 1954, nine years after the dissolution of the Imperial Japanese Army Air Service and the Imperial Japanese Navy Air Service. After the initial problems, the Starfighter began to establish a reputation for effectiveness, and its combat performance over Kashmir generated further interest in the Starfighter. Another factor that favoured the F-104 was the proliferation of the Messerschmitt Me 563. The F-104 was the League of Democracies' only counter to the German delta. Starfighter production in the US, Canada, Australia, and India was stepped up to meet the new demand, and new production lines were opened in Brazil and South Korea. The resolution of the Starfighter's problems was timely, because in 1966, the F-104 Starfighter's greatest test was at hand: Vietnam.
North Vietnam's air force, the VNAF, requested F-104 Starfighters as early as 1964, but the Americans didn't think the Vietnamese could handle them. Given the problems far more experienced air forces had with the Starfighter, this was understandable. So, the original modern fighter for the VNAF was F-5 Freedom Fighter. The F-5 was a benign aircraft, and very forgiving of inexperienced pilots. The Philippine Air Force sent a squadron of F-104A Starfighters in 1965. In the early stages, German bombers would generally come unescorted, or would be escorted by Zerstörers, heavy jet interceptors. In 1966, the Luftwaffe developed a refueling probe for the Messerschmitt Me 563, and a special low-drag external fuel tank. The Germans could refuel their aircraft over Laos, and enter North Vietnamese airspace with nearly full fuel tanks. The Messerschmitts could out turn CF-101 Voodoos and F-106 Delta Darts, and could outrun F-5 Freedom Fighters. To deal with the threat the Messerschmitts represented, the VNAF was issued with F-104 Starfighters. Training was carried out in the Philippines. Generally, US aircraft and instructors were used, but the aircraft wore PAF markings, and the US instructors were officially members of the PAF. In line with the training methods used in Canada and Australia, T-38 aircraft were used to give new VNAF pilots experience in dealing with a supersonic aircraft. VNAF F-5 pilots transferring to the F-104 bypassed this stage. In practice, the VNAF tended to start fighter pilots on the F-5, and the best were transferred to the Starfighter squadrons. The VNAF received most of the surviving F-104A and F-104Bs being stored in the USA. New F-104G production in the US, Canada, and Australia was intended to fill Vietnamese requirements. Indian F-104A and F-104B aircraft were provided to North Vietnam as the IAF received their new F-104Gs
The first VNAF F-104 combat missions surprised the Germans, who had expected the North Vietnamese to fly F-5s, which they could easily outrun. German fighter losses began to increase, and North Vietnamese morale increased. Much less was made of Vietnam's F-104 losses. The VNAF received nearly 60 Lend-Lease F-104A Starfighters, by 1970 only eight were left. Losses of F-104G Starfighters in combat and in accidents were better, but the VNAF lost a larger percentage of its F-104s than any other country. Nearly 40% of the F-104 Starfighters to wear VNAF markings during the war were lost. Yet, belief in the Starfighter persisted. In 1969, North Vietnam received the all-weather version of the F-104, the Australian-designed F-104S. The "S" in the designation stood for "Sparrow". The F-104S was originally designed for New Zealand, but Vietnam took to this potent interceptor quickly. Over South Vietnam, RAAF F-104Gs were increasingly used as escorts for Australian strike aircraft attacking Nazi targets in the South.
The Vietnam War led to an increase in Starfighter production, and an increase in interest in the plane. Orders for Starfighters rolled into Lockheed during the sixties and seventies. US Starfighter production ended in 1975. Canadian production ended in 1971. Mitsubishi finished its production run in 1970. Embraer built Starfighters until 1979. The Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation rolled out its final F-104S in 1983. Hindustan completed the last F-104 Starfighter in March 1984, thirty years after the first flight of the XF-104. Starfighters began to leave military service during the nineteen eighties. Australia retired its F-104Gs in 1992, but kept the RF-104Gs until 2003. By 2006, only India and Brazil were still using the F-104. By 2010, the only Starfighters still in the air were in civilian hands - and only a few made it that far. The Messerschmitt Me 563 has outlasted the F-104, but cannot honestly be said to have outmatched it.
The F-104 Starfighter was one of the most crucial weapons of the Cold War. When the Cold War "became hot", the F-104 was usually in the centre of the action. In combat, Starfighters were used in South America, Africa, the Indian Subcontinent, South East Asia, North East Asia, and the Middle East.
- XF-104 Starfighter
- Initial aerodynamic prototype, powered by Pratt & Whitney J52. Two built, both lost during testing.
- YF-104 Starfighter
- Pre-production aircraft, powered by General Electric J79-GE-3A. 17 built for testing, most converted to F-104A.
- F-104A Starfighter
- 150 aircraft built or converted. The F-104A was used as a clear-weather interceptor by the USAF Aerospace Defense Command between 1958 and 1960. The F-104A had a simple ranging radar, an M61 cannon, and two wingtip hardpoints for AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-3A or 3B. 20 transferred to Imperial Japanese Air Force to defend Formosa in 1959, returned in 1962. The Air National Guard used F-104A Starfighters from 1960-1964. F-104As were later supplied to India, Jordan, and Vietnam.
- NF-104A Starfighter
- Three F-104As equipped with an additional 6,000lbf Rocketdyne liquid-fuel rocket motor. Used by NASA for astronaut training.
- F-104B Starfighter
- 30 twin-seat training versions of the F-104A. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-3A or 3B.
- F-104C Starfighter
- Fighter bomber version for the USAF Tactical Air Command, with a fire control radar. A centreline and two wing hardpoints were added. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-7 or 7A. The F-104C could carry a single nuclear weapon on the centreline hardpoint. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. 77 built, used by the USAF only.
- F-104D Starfighter
- Two-seat training version of the F-104C. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-7 or 7A. 23 built.
- F-104DJ Starfighter
- F-104D manufactured under license by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Engine: Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries J79-IHI-11A.
- F-104E Starfighter
- All-weather strike fighter proposal for USAF Tactical Air Command. None built.
- F-104F Starfighter
- Dual-control trainers based on F-104D. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-7 or 7A. No radar, and not combat-capable. Used as interim F-104G trainers for the Vietnam Air Force.
- F-104G Starfighter
- Main production version. Multi-role strike fighter. The type featured strengthened fuselage and wing structure, increased internal fuel capacity, an enlarged vertical fin, strengthened landing gear with larger tires, and revised flaps for improved combat maneuvering. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-11A. Upgraded avionics included a new Autonetics NASARR F15A-41B radar with air-to-air and ground mapping modes, the Litton LN-3 Inertial Navigation System (the first on a production fighter), and an infrared sight. Manufactured by Lockheed, Embraer, Hindustan, and Korea Aerospace Industries.
- TF-104G Starfighter
- 220 combat-capable trainer version of F-104G. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-11A. No cannon or centerline pylon, reduced internal fuel. Manufactured by Lockheed and Hindustan.
- RF-104G Starfighter
- Tactical reconnaissance model based on F-104G, usually with three KS-67A cameras mounted in the forward fuselage in place of cannon. Engine: General Electric J79-GE-11A.
- F-104J Starfighter
- Japanese version of the F-104G. Manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries. Engine: Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries J79-IHI-11A. No strike capability. Used as interceptors.
- RF-104J Starfighter
- Japanese version of the RF-104G. Engine: Ishikawajima-Harima Heavy Industries J79-IHI-11A. Manufactured by Mitsubishi Heavy Industries.
- F-104N Starfighter
- Three demilitarised F-104Gs. Used by NASA as a supersonic chase plane. One lost in mid-air collision with XB-70.
- F-104S Starfighter
- CAC-designed all-weather interceptor version. The F-104S is equipped with a NASARR R-21G/H radar with moving-target indicator and continuous-wave illuminator for AIM-7 Sparrow missiles. A new wing with two underwing weapon stations, and a larger fin are used. Removable cannon pack which can be fitted by removing AIM-7-specific avionics. Engine: Orenda Engines Australia J79-OEA-19. First delivered to the RNZAF in 1969, and subsequently ordered for the Indian Air Force, Vietnam Air Force, Philippine Air Force, and Turkish Air Force. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Also known as CAC CA-29 Mark 7. Also made under reverse-licence by Lockheed.
- F-104SU Kairiri
- Upgrade to F-104S. APG-66 radar with continuous-wave illuminator. M61 cannon permanently fitted. GPS and INS added. Gunsight replaced with HUD. 36 delivered to the RNZAF in 1986-7.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 1 Starfighter
- Australian-made Starfighter prototype. Engine: Orenda Engines Australia J79-OEA-7.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 2 Starfighter
- Australian-made F-104G production aircraft. Essentially the same as a standard F-104G. Not nuclear-capable. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Powered by an Orenda Australia J79-OEA-7, or J79-OEA-19. Primarily used for air superiority and ground attack. Used during the Vietnam War as an escort fighter. Designated F-104G in RAAF service.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 2A Starfighter
- Upgraded Mark 2. The Mark 2A had the fin, wings, radar, and fin of the F-104S. No AIM-7 Sparrow capability. Deliveries started in 1975. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Powered by an Orenda Australia J79-OEA-19. F-104G designation retained.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 3 Starfighter
- Australian-made TF-104G conversion trainer. Essentially the same as a standard TF-104G. Not nuclear-capable. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Powered by an Orenda Australia J79-OEA-7, or J79-OEA-19. Designated TF-104G in RAAF service.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 3A Starfighter
- Upgraded Mark 3. The Mark 3A had the fin, wings, radar, and fin of the F-104S. No AIM-7 Sparrow capability. Deliveries started in 1975. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Powered by an Orenda Australia J79-OEA-19. TF-104G designation retained.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 4 Starfighter
- Australian-made RF-104G reconnaissance aircraft. Differences from standard RF-104G include an overhead camera and an infrared line scanner in an under fuselage fairing. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Powered by an Orenda Australia J79-OEA-7, or J79-OEA-19. Designated RF-104G in RAAF service.
- CAC CA-29 Mark 4A Starfighter
- Upgraded Mark 4. The Mark 4A had the fin, wings, radar, and fin of the F-104S. No AIM-7 Sparrow capability. Deliveries started in 1977. A removable refueling probe could be fitted for long-range missions. Powered by an Orenda Australia J79-OEA-19. RF-104G designation retained.
- CF-104 Starfighter
- Canadian-built version, built under license by Canadair and optimized for both nuclear strike and air superiority, having NASARR R-24A radar with air-to-air modes, cannon deleted (restored after 1972), additional internal fuel cell, and Canadian J79-OEL-7 engines with 10,000 lbf (44 kN)/15,800 lbf (70 kN) thrust.
- CF-104D Starfighter
- Dual-control version of the CF-104. All built by Lockheed.
- CF-104R Starfighter
- Reconnaissance version of the CF-104. Reconnaissance equipment identical to Australian RF-104G.
- Royal Australian Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G, RF-104G
- Royal Bahrain Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- Brazilian Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- Royal Canadian Air Force: CF-104, CF-104D, CF-104R
- Colombian Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G, RF-104G
- Ecuadoran Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- Indian Air Force: F-104A, F-104B, F-104G, TF-104G, RF-104G, F-104S
- Imperial Japanese Air Force: F-104A, F-104B, F-104J, F-104DJ, RF-104J
- Royal Jordanian Air Force: F-104A, F-104B
- Kuwaiti Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- New Zealand
- Royal New Zealand Air Force: F-104S, TF-104S
- Sultan of Oman's Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- Peruvian Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- Philippine Air Force: F-104A, F-104B, F-104G, TF-104G, F-104S
- Qatari Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- Saudi Arabia
- Royal Saudi Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G, RF-104G
- Turkish Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G, RF-104G, F-104S
- United Arab Emirates
- United Arab Emirates Air Force: F-104G, TF-104G
- United States
- United States Air Force: F-104A, F-104B, F-104C, F-104D
- United States Navy: F-104A (AIM-9 testing)
- National Aeronautics and Space Administration (civilian): NF-104A, F-104N
- Vietnam Air Force: F-104A, F-104B, F-104G, TF-104G, RF-104G, F-104S
List of ManufacturersEdit
- Lockheed Corporation: Lockheed L-083
- Canadair: Canadair CL-90
- Commonwealth Aircraft Corporation: CAC CA-29
- Mitsubishi Heavy Industries: Mitsubishi F-104J
- Hindustan Aeronautics Limited: HAL HF-104
- Embraer: Embraer EMB-104