F-104 Operators

This page provides information about all nations and civil organisations that flew or still operate the F-104 Starfighter.

tail-belgium BELGIUM (Belgium Air Force)
Like a lot of other NATO allies also Belgium has received a number of Starfighter to replace the outdated F-84 jets. Also Belgium got involved in the European Licence program where SABCA was selected as one of the 4 major companies responsible for building and assembling F-104s for the Belgium but also German Air Forces. In total the Belgium Air Force received 100 single seat F-104Gs of which 25 were funded by MAP, and 12 dual-seat TF-104Gs of which 3 were funded by MAP. The aircraft were operated by 4 squadrons. From 1979 onwards the F-104G was replaced by the General Dynamics F-16 fighter. After retirement, 18 aircraft have been transferred to Turkey mid 80s while some other aircraft have found their way via the US to Taiwan, used for spare-parts. More about the "end" here. More about the squadrons here.
tail-canada CANADA (Royal Canadian Air Force / Canadian Armed Forces)
The Canadian Armed Forces decided to build the CF-104 in license and build 200 CF-104 single seat and 38 CF-104D Lockheed build two-seaters. Due to some re-structuring programs a number of aircraft were sold to NATO allies (Norway and Denmark) early 70s. In 1986 the Starfighters were replaced by the more modern CF-188 Hornet fighter bomber and a number of the remaining CF-104s were sold to Turkey and some of them became monuments or instructional airframes.
tail-denmark DENMARK (Royal Danish Air Force)
The Danish Air Force was one of the Air Forces that, within the MAP framework, received a number of Lockheed Starfighters from the United States. This concerned 25 F-104Gs built by Canadair (Montreal) and 4 TF-104Gs built by Lockheed (Burbank). With the based Eskadriller (Squadrons) 723 and 726, the T/F-104Gs replaced the obsolete North American F-86D Sabre. Their task became all-weather interception. To expand the number of aircraft in each Eskadrille, Denmark bought 22 surplus Canadian Starfighters in the early seventies. This country had the aircraft for sale due to a change in defence policy. The contract for 15 CF-104s and 7 CF-104Ds was signed on 17 September 1971. From 1980 the Starfighters were replaced by the modern F-16.
tail-germany GERMANY (German Air Force "Luftwaffe"/ German Navy "Marineflieger")
The German Air Force and Navy used a large number of F-104G (for Germany) aircraft for intersception, recconaisance and fighter bomber roles. Also 137 TF-104G and initially 30 F-104F aircraft were bought. In total the Germans used 916 Starfighters being the biggest 104 operator in the world. After withdrawal a lot of these aircraft were transferred to other NATO partners like Norway, Greece, Turkey, Italy and also 2 aircraft were sold to the NASA. One specific Starfighter was modified into a CCV experimental aircraft under control of the German Industry. In the early days the Germans used the old squadron based serials (e.g. DA+125, VA+112, JD+223 etc) and from 13 November 1967 they introduced the new XX+XX serial system.
tail-greece GREECE (Hellenic Air Force)
The Hellenic Air Force received a large number of Starfighters from the US under MAP early 60s. Early 70s, late 70s and in the 80s MAP aircraft were obtained from the Spanish, German and Dutch Air Forces via the US. From March 1993 the remaining F-104s were replaced by A7 Corsair aircraft obtained from the US (former US Navy aircraft). In total the Hellenic Air Force has retrieved 51 F-104G and 7 TF-104G aircraft from the US via the MAP program of which a few have been flying a few years with the Spanish Air Force. Late seventies and eighties the Air Force received 55 F-104G and RF-104G aircraft from the German Air Force together with 23 two-seat TF-104Gs to increase the trainingcapacity. They also got 9 additional former Dutch Air Force F-104Gs.
tail-holland HOLLAND (Royal Netherlands Air Force / Koninklijke Luchtmacht)
To replace the Hawker Hunter, F-84F Thunderstreak, RF-84F Thunderflash and F-86K Sabres the KLu obtained 95 Fokker licensed build F-104G aircraft, 25 MAP licensed F-104G from the factury line in Italy (FIAT) as well as 18 TF-104G two-seaters. One of these two-seaters was wellkown as the former Lockheed factory demonstrator N104NL. All Starfighters were replaced by F-16 Fighting Falcons from 1980 till mid 80s. A number of aircraft were sold to the Turkish Air Force and the remaining MAP aircraft were handed over to the Hellenic Air Force.
tail-italy ITALY (Italian Air Force)
The Italian Industry build the F-104G aircraft in license for their own Air Force as well as for the German and Dutch Air Force. Late 60s the Italian industry developed a more modern F-104S version together with Lockheed and build 200 aircraft for the Italian Air Force and also for the Turkish Air Force. In 1984 Italy received some TF-104Gs from Germany to compensate the loss of a number of two-seaters since 1962. In total 104 F-104G, 21 RF-104G, 206 F-104S and 28 TF-104G aircraft were adopted by the Italian Air Force. To stay up-to-date the F-104S Starfighters received a number of modification programs after the G versions had retired. The "ASA program" modified aircraft between Sept 1985 and Nov1993 (103 Interceptors and 48 Fighter Bombers) while the "ASA-M program" modified aircraft between July 1995 till Dec 2001. The remaining TFs were upgraded to TF-104G-M between July 1995 and January 2001. The Starfighter stayed the front-line interceptor-fighterbomber aircraft until 2004 when the last 104s retired. This means that Italy flew the F-104 operationally for 42 years!!!
tail-japan JAPAN (Japanese Self Defense Air Forces)
The Japanese Industry built the F-104G alike F-104J version as well as the F-104DJ two-seaters. In total they adopted 210 single and 20 two-seater aircraft which served until 1986 when a number of aircraft were sold to Taiwan and others were modified to UF-104J drone aircraft. A lot of aircraft can be found preserved inside lots of places. Others were scrapped at GIFU Air Base.
tail-jordan JORDAN (Royal Jordanian Air Force)
Although the Royal Jordan Air Force wanted to take over 36 ex-USAF Starfighters from the US in 1966, it was 1969 they really got their first aircraft. In stead of 36, they received only 22 F-104A and 4 F-104B aircraft. The first batch arrived in the autumn of 1969 and the second batch in 1972/1973. All 26 Starfighters were operated by nr 9 Squadron, based at the King Hassan Air Force Base ("H5") at Amman. Operations started in Sept 1969 and ended in July 1977 when the remaining aircraft were replaced by Northrop F-5E and F-5F aircraft. After the aircraft had been withdrawn from use most of them started a career as decoy aircraft on King Hassan Air Force Base and Azraq Air Force. A number of decoy aircraft received Mirage F1 camouflage scheme.
tail-nasa NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration)
The NASA used a number of Starfighters for various duties like chaseplanes, high-speed testplanes and astronaut training. For this specific purpose the NASA used a few aircraft on loan from the USAF. When the value for the NASA became evident they ordered three F-104N aircraft from the Lockheed NATO assembly line at Palmdale. These aircraft received some extra treatment and all weaponsystems were eliminated from the airframe. Also two phased out USAF F-104A Starfighters were obtained as well as a B two-seater which was already loaned for a number of years. To replace these older A and B aircraft and as a replacement for the lost F-104N the NASA obtained two TF-104G and one F-104G aircraft from the German Air Force in the summer of 1975.
tail-norway NORWAY (Royal Norwegian Air Force)
The Norwegian Air Force received the first of 18 F-104Gs, and two TF-104Gs in 1963. They all served with No. 331 Skvadron at Bodo Air Base. With the loss of one two-seater in 1970 there was a need for extra trainers, so two extra TF-104Gs were bought from Germany in June 1975 and already In 1973, a second Norwegian Starfighter unit, No. 334 Skvadron, was formed with eighteen ex-Canadian Forces CF-104s and four CF-104Ds. From June 1981 the first F-16 fighters arrived to replace the F-104s. The aircraft originally delivered via the MAP program were formally US property and were delivered back to USAF where their destiny would be decided. During June and July 1981 these aircraft were flown over to Great Britain. From there they became objects of a new military aid program, this time for the Turkeys Air Force.
tail-pakistan PAKISTAN (Pakistan Air Force)
The Pakistan Air Force received ten F-104A and two F-104B aircraft via MAP from the USAF in 1961 which were followed by two supplementing aircraft due to one F-104A loss. Pakistan could use these aircraft very well due to the treath from "enemy" India which received MACH-2 capable MIG-21 aircraft from Russia. In September 1964 and December 1971 both India and Pakistan encountered a war-conflict in which the F-104 played an important role. Due to the availability of the 104s within the Pakistan Air Force they arranged a real protection for MIG-21s being used to intercept Pakistan striking aircraft. Although quite successful the Pakistans lost 2 aircraft in the 1965 war and 4 aircraft in the 1971 war. For political reasons the USA was not willing to supply any more F-104s and after their retirement in 1972 the Pakistans received Mirage fighter aircraft from France as replacement. All aircraft served with nr 9 Squadron at Sargodha Air Base.
tail-spain SPAIN (Spanish Air Force)
Around 1960 the Spanish Air Force showed a lot of interest in the F-104 Starfighter. After negotiations, the US agreed to supply eightteen F-104G and two TF-104G aircraft under MAP. Since Spain saw the need of three TF-104Gs they bought one directly from Lockheed since the MAP only listed two. Once the first seven F-104s had arrived at Torrejon AB, the official presentation took place on March 5th, 1965. On September 24th, 1965, the Unit was fully operational. The F-104 era lasted about 7 years until 1972, when the conversion to the replacing F-4 Phantom started. The Starfighters were officially retired from service in May 1972, when their role was completely taken over by the F-4C. All Starfighters, except the TF they bougth themselves, were returned to the USAF for transfer to Greece and Turkey since these aircraft were meant for MAP. In May1972 the quadron was disbanded ending the short career of the F-104 within the Spanish Air Force. The Spanish Air Force kept the best Starfighter operation safety record figures when during the 7 years they did not loose any aircraft.
tail-taiwan TAIWAN (Republic of China Air Force)
The Taiwanese Air Force wrote history by operating more versions of the F-104 then any other nation, including the United States of America. The versions were F-104A, F-104B, F-104D, F-104G, RF-104G, F-104J, F-104DJ, TF-104G and their own created RF-104Gev. The aircraft were obtained under MAP from the USA and second-hand via Japan, Denmark, Belgium (spare parts usage only) and Germany. In total 219 different Starfighters once flew over the island of Taiwan. A lot of remaining aircraft can be found preserved at various locations. On January 13th 1967 two Taiwanese Starfighters wrote history by shooting down two J-6 (Chinese Mig's) near Kinman Island during a serious dogfight. were involved
tail-turkey TURKEY (Turkish Air Force)
The Turkish Air Force has operated a large number (mostly 2nd hand) Starfighters. Initially via MAP they received 30 F-104Gs and 6 TF's, lateron they received 11 more via Spain. Then on the second hand market they obtained 18 ex-Belgium, 43 ex-Dutch, 9 ex-Norwegian, 137 ex-German F-104G's, 35 ex-German, 10 ex-Dutch, 1 ex-Norwegian TFs, 46 ex-Canadian CF-104s and 6 CF-104D aircraft. Next to the G's they also bought a number of F-104S aircraft from December 1974 till October 1976, taken directly from Italian F-104S production line. In total the squadron received 36 of these S aircraft. Four additional aircraft were received for spare-parts but just entered operational service making the total reaching 40. Starfighter operations ended in June 1994 when the last CF-104s were phased out at the Air Base Diyarbakir.
usaft USA  (United States Air Force & United States Navy)
The USAF was the very first user of the F-104 Starfighter starting with the XF-104 prototypes and lateron YF-104A, F-104A, NF-104A, F-104B, F-104C and F-104D aircraft. A number of F-104G aircraft were used to train the first pilots of the countries which flew this Super Starfighter variant from the early 60s. The USAF Starfighters have also been involved in deployements in Europe as well as Asia. The USAF has used in total two XF-104 prototype aircraft, 17 pre-production YF-104A, 153 F-104A Interceptors, 26 F-104B Trainers, 77 F-104C Fighter-Bombers and 21 F-104D Training aircraft. A number of F-104A and YF-104A aircraft have been converted into 2 XQF-104A, 21 (J)QF-104A drones and 3 rocketpowered NF-104A experimental aircraft. The US NAVY used a few aircraft for testing purposes only during AIM9 tests at Naval Air Station China Lake.
civiltt CIVIL
The F-104 Starfighter has been used and is still used operated by Civil organisations or private projects.