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F-14 Tomcat

F-14 Tomcat

Overview


The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

, twin-engine
Twinjet
A twinjet or twin jet is a jet aircraft powered by two engines. Such configuration of an aircraft is the most popular today for commercial airliners, for fighters, and many other kinds, because while offering safety from a single engine failure, it is also acceptably fuel-efficient.-Aircraft...

, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program following the collapse of the F-111B
General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B
The General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B was developed as a long-range carrier-based interceptor follow-on to the F-4 Phantom II. It was developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics in conjunction with Grumman for the United States Navy as part of the joint Tactical Fighter Experimental with the United...

 project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series
Teen Series
The Teen Series is a popular name for a group of US combat aircraft. The name stems from a series of US supersonic jet fighters built for the United States Air Force and the United States Navy during the late 20th century. The designations system was the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft...

 fighters which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat
Aerial warfare
Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare, including military airlift of cargo to further the national interests as was demonstrated in the Berlin Airlift...

 against MiG
Mikoyan
Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG , or RSK MiG, is a Russian joint stock company. Formerly Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau , then simply Mikoyan, it is a military aircraft design bureau, primarily designing fighter aircraft...

s during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

The F-14 first flew in December 1970.
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Encyclopedia


The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic
Supersonic
Supersonic speed is a rate of travel of an object that exceeds the speed of sound . For objects traveling in dry air of a temperature of 20 °C this speed is approximately 343 m/s, 1,125 ft/s, 768 mph or 1,235 km/h. Speeds greater than five times the speed of sound are often...

, twin-engine
Twinjet
A twinjet or twin jet is a jet aircraft powered by two engines. Such configuration of an aircraft is the most popular today for commercial airliners, for fighters, and many other kinds, because while offering safety from a single engine failure, it is also acceptably fuel-efficient.-Aircraft...

, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program following the collapse of the F-111B
General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B
The General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B was developed as a long-range carrier-based interceptor follow-on to the F-4 Phantom II. It was developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics in conjunction with Grumman for the United States Navy as part of the joint Tactical Fighter Experimental with the United...

 project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series
Teen Series
The Teen Series is a popular name for a group of US combat aircraft. The name stems from a series of US supersonic jet fighters built for the United States Air Force and the United States Navy during the late 20th century. The designations system was the 1962 United States Tri-Service aircraft...

 fighters which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat
Aerial warfare
Aerial warfare is the use of military aircraft and other flying machines in warfare, including military airlift of cargo to further the national interests as was demonstrated in the Berlin Airlift...

 against MiG
Mikoyan
Russian Aircraft Corporation MiG , or RSK MiG, is a Russian joint stock company. Formerly Mikoyan-and-Gurevich Design Bureau , then simply Mikoyan, it is a military aircraft design bureau, primarily designing fighter aircraft...

s during the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

.

The F-14 first flew in December 1970. It first deployed in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard , replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter
Air superiority fighter
An air superiority fighter is a type of fighter aircraft intended to gain air superiority in a war, by entering and seizing control of enemy airspace. Air superiority fighters are designed to effectively engage enemy fighters, more than other types of aircraft...

, fleet defense interceptor
Interceptor aircraft
An interceptor aircraft is a type of fighter aircraft designed specifically to prevent missions of enemy aircraft, particularly bombers and reconnaissance aircraft. Interceptors generally rely on high speed and powerful armament in order to complete their mission as quickly as possible and set up...

 and tactical reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 platform. In the 1990s it added the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN
LANTIRN
Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, is a combined navigation and targeting pod system for use on the USAF's premier fighter aircraft — the F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon...

) pod system and began performing precision strike missions. The F-14 was retired from the active U.S. Navy fleet on 22 September 2006, having been replaced by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. As of 2009, the F-14 was only in service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
The Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force ' is the aviation branch of the Iranian armed forces. The present Air Force came into being in the early 1980s when the former Imperial Iranian Air Force was renamed....

, having been exported to Iran
History of the Iranian Air Force
The history of the Iranian Air Force can be divided into two phases - before the Islamic Revolution, and after it.-Imperial era: The Imperial Iranian Air Force was a branch of the Imperial Iranian Armed Forces and was established by Reza Shah, the Shah of Iran, in 1920. It became operational with...

 in 1976 when the US had amicable diplomatic relations with the then government of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

Background


Beginning in the late 1950s the U.S. Navy sought a long-range, high-endurance interceptor to defend its carrier battle group
Carrier battle group
A carrier battle group consists of an aircraft carrier and its escorts, together composing the group. The first naval task forces built around carriers appeared just prior to and during World War II. The Imperial Japanese Navy was the first to assemble a large number of carriers into a single...

s against long-range anti-ship missile
Anti-ship missile
Anti-ship missiles are guided missiles that are designed for use against ships and large boats. Most anti-ship missiles are of the sea-skimming type, many use a combination of inertial guidance and radar homing...

s launched from Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 jet bombers and submarines. The Navy needed a Fleet Air Defense (FAD) aircraft with a more powerful radar, and longer range missiles than the F-4 Phantom II to intercept both enemy bombers and missiles. The Navy was directed to participate in the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) program with the U.S. Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 by then-Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara
Robert McNamara
Robert Strange McNamara was an American business executive and the eighth Secretary of Defense, serving under Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson from 1961 to 1968, during which time he played a large role in escalating the United States involvement in the Vietnam War...

. McNamara wanted "joint" solutions to service aircraft needs to reduce development costs, and had already directed the Air Force to buy the F-4 Phantom II which was developed for the Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy strenuously opposed the TFX as it feared compromises necessary for the Air Force's need for a low-level attack aircraft would affect performance.

However, weight and performance issues plagued the U.S. Navy F-111B variant
General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B
The General Dynamics/Grumman F-111B was developed as a long-range carrier-based interceptor follow-on to the F-4 Phantom II. It was developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics in conjunction with Grumman for the United States Navy as part of the joint Tactical Fighter Experimental with the United...

 for TFX and would not be resolved to the Navy's satisfaction. The F-111 manufacturer General Dynamics
General Dynamics
General Dynamics Corporation is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. Its headquarters are in West Falls Church , unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Falls Church area.The company has...

 partnered with Grumman on the Navy F-111B. With the F-111B program in distress, Grumman began studying improvements and alternatives. In 1966 the Navy awarded Grumman a contract to begin studying advanced fighter designs. Grumman narrowed down these designs to its 303 design. Vice Admiral Thomas Connolly
Thomas Connolly
Thomas Connolly may refer to:*Tom Connolly , English-born American baseball umpire*Tom Connolly , baseball third baseman*Thomas Arthur Connolly , first Archbishop of Seattle...

, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare, took the developmental F-111A variant for a flight and discovered it had difficulty going supersonic and had poor carrier landing characteristics. He later testified to Congress about his concerns against the official Department of the Navy position, and in May 1968 Congress stopped funding for the F-111B, allowing the Navy to pursue an answer tailored to their requirements. The name, "Tomcat", was partially chosen to pay tribute to Admiral Connolly, as the nickname, "Tom's Cat", had already been widely used by the manufacturer, although the name also followed the Grumman tradition of naming its fighter aircraft after felines.

VFX


The F-111B had been designed for the long-range Fleet Air Defense (FAD) interceptor role, but not for new requirements for air combat based on experience of American aircraft against agile MiG fighters over Vietnam. The Navy studied the need for VFAX
VFAX
VFAX for Naval Fighter Attack Experimental was actually two specifications for two US Naval fighter projects. The first was for a low cost lightweight complement for the F-111B which could replace the F-4 Phantom II for air superiority, escort, and ground attack missions in the early 1960s. This...

, an additional fighter that was more agile than the F-4 Phantom for air combat and ground attack roles. Grumman continued work on its 303 design and offered it to the Navy in 1967, which led to fighter studies by the Navy. The company continued to refine the design into 1968.

In July 1968, the Naval Air Systems Command
Naval Air Systems Command
The Naval Air Systems Command provides material support for aircraft and airborne weapon systems for the United States Navy. NAVAIR was established in 1966 as the successor to the Navy's Bureau of Naval Weapons . Current Commander, Naval Air Systems Command, is Vice Adm. David Architzel since May...

 (NAVAIR) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program. VFX called for a tandem two-seat, twin-engined air-to-air fighter with a maximum speed of Mach 2.2. It would also have a built-in M61 Vulcan cannon and a secondary close air support role. The VFX's air-to-air missiles would be either six AIM-54 Phoenix
AIM-54 Phoenix
The AIM-54 Phoenix is a radar-guided, long-range air-to-air missile , carried in clusters of up to six missiles on F-14 Tomcats, its only launch platform. The Phoenix was the United States' only long-range air-to-air missile. The weapons system based on Phoenix was the world's first to allow...

 or a combination of six AIM-7 Sparrow
AIM-7 Sparrow
The AIM-7 Sparrow is an American, medium-range semi-active radar homing air-to-air missile operated by the United States Air Force, United States Navy and United States Marine Corps, as well as various allied air forces and navies. Sparrow and its derivatives were the West's principal beyond visual...

 and four AIM-9 Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 missiles. Bids were received from General Dynamics
General Dynamics
General Dynamics Corporation is a U.S. defense conglomerate formed by mergers and divestitures, and as of 2008 it is the fifth largest defense contractor in the world. Its headquarters are in West Falls Church , unincorporated Fairfax County, Virginia, in the Falls Church area.The company has...

, Grumman, Ling-Temco-Vought
Ling-Temco-Vought
Ling-Temco-Vought was a large U.S. conglomerate which existed from 1969 to 2000. At its peak, its component parts were involved in the aerospace industry, electronics, steel manufacturing, sporting goods, the airline industry, meat packing, car rentals and pharmaceuticals, among other...

, McDonnell Douglas
McDonnell Douglas
McDonnell Douglas was a major American aerospace manufacturer and defense contractor, producing a number of famous commercial and military aircraft. It formed from a merger of McDonnell Aircraft and Douglas Aircraft in 1967. McDonnell Douglas was based at Lambert-St. Louis International Airport...

 and North American Rockwell
Rockwell International
Rockwell International was a major American manufacturing conglomerate in the latter half of the 20th century, involved in aircraft, the space industry, both defense-oriented and commercial electronics, automotive and truck components, printing presses, valves and meters, and industrial automation....

; four bids incorporated variable-geometry wings.

McDonnell Douglas and Grumman were selected as finalists in December 1968. Grumman was selected for the contract award in January 1969. Grumman's design reused the TF30 engines from the F-111B, though the Navy planned on replacing them with the F401-PW-400 engines under development for the Navy, along with the related F100
Pratt & Whitney F100
-External links:* * *...

 for the USAF. Though lighter than the F-111B, it was still the largest and heaviest U.S. fighter to fly from an aircraft carrier, its size a consequence of the requirement to carry the large AWG-9 radar and AIM-54 Phoenix missiles (from the F-111B) and an internal fuel load of 16000 lb (7,257.5 kg).

Upon being granted the contract for the F-14, Grumman greatly expanded its Calverton
Calverton, New York
Calverton is a hamlet in Suffolk County, New York, United States. The population was 5,704 at the 2000 census.The community is on the border of the Town of Riverhead and the Town of Brookhaven.-History:...

, Long Island, New York facility for evaluating the aircraft. Much of the testing, including the first of many compressor stalls and multiple ejections, took place over Long Island Sound. In order to save time and forestall interference from Secretary McNamara, the Navy skipped the prototype phase and jumped directly to full-scale development; the Air Force took a similar approach with its F-15. The F-14 first flew on 21 December 1970, just 22 months after Grumman was awarded the contract, and reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in 1973. The United States Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 was initially interested in the F-14 as an F-4 Phantom II replacement; going so far as to send officers to Fighter Squadron One Twenty-Four (VF-124
VF-124
Fighter Squadron 124 was a fleet replacement squadron of the United States Navy. Known as the Gunfighters, they were active from 1958 through 1994...

) to train as instructors. The Marine Corps pulled out of any procurement when development of the stores management system for ground attack munitions was not pursued. An air-to-ground capability was not developed until the 1990s.

Firing trials involved launches against simulated targets of various types, from cruise missiles to high-flying bombers. AIM-54 Phoenix missile testing from the F-14 began in April 1972. The longest single Phoenix launch was successful against a target at a range 110 nmi (203.7 km) in April 1973. Another unusual test was made on 22 November 1973, when six missiles were fired within 38 seconds at Mach 0.78 and 24800 ft (7,559 m); four scored direct hits. This missile entered service at the beginning of 1975, as the Vietnam War
Vietnam War
The Vietnam War was a Cold War-era military conflict that occurred in Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia from 1 November 1955 to the fall of Saigon on 30 April 1975. This war followed the First Indochina War and was fought between North Vietnam, supported by its communist allies, and the government of...

 came to an end.

Improvements and changes


With time, the early versions of all the missiles were replaced by more advanced versions, especially with the move to full solid-state electronics that allowed better reliability, better ECCM and more space for the rocket engine. So the early arrangement of the AIM-54A Phoenix active-radar air-to-air missile, the AIM-7E-2 Sparrow Semi-active radar homing
Semi-active radar homing
Semi-active radar homing, or SARH, is a common type of missile guidance system, perhaps the most common type for longer-range air-to-air and surface-to-air missile systems. The name refers to the fact that the missile itself is only a passive detector of a radar signal – provided by an external ...

 air-to-air missile, and the AIM-9J Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missile was replaced in the 1980s with the B (1983) and C (1986) version of the Phoenix, the F (1977), M (1982), P (1987 or later) for Sparrows, and with the Sidewinder, L (1979) and M (1982). Within these versions there are several improved batches (for example, Phoenix AIM-54C++).

The Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System
Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System
The Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System is a large and sophisticated camera pod carried by the F-14 Tomcat. It contains three camera bays with different type cameras which are pointed down at passing terrain. It was originally designed to provide an interim reconnaissance capability until...

 (TARPS) was developed in the late 1970s for the F-14. Approximately 65 F-14As and all F-14Ds were modified to carry the pod. TARPS was primarily controlled by the RIO, who had a specialized display to observe reconnaissance data. The TARPS was upgraded with digital camera in 1996 with the "TARPS Digital (TARPS-DI)". The digital camera was further updated beginning in 1998 with the "TARPS-CD" configuration.

Some of the F-14A aircraft underwent engine upgrades to the GE F110-400
General Electric F110
-External links:* - The F110 Engine Family* - F110-GE-100 Gallery* - F110* - General Electric F110...

 in 1987. These upgraded Tomcats were redesignated F-14A+, which was later changed to F-14B in 1991. The F-14D variant was developed at the same time; it included the GE F110-400 engines with newer digital avionics systems such as a glass cockpit
Glass cockpit
A glass cockpit is an aircraft cockpit that features electronic instrument displays, typically large LCD screens, as opposed to the traditional style of analog dials and gauges...

, and compatibility with the Link 16
Link 16
Link 16 is a military tactical data exchange network created and used by the United States and adopted by some of its Allies and by NATO. Its specification is part of the family of Tactical Data Links....

 secure datalink. The Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) notably improved the F-14's handling qualities when flying at a high angle of attack
Angle of attack
Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

 or in air combat maneuvering.

Adding ground attack capability


In the 1990s, with the pending retirement of the A-6 Intruder, the F-14 air-to-ground
Ground attack aircraft
Ground-attack aircraft are military aircraft with primary role of attacking targets on the ground with greater precision than bombers and prepared to face stronger low-level air defense...

 program was resurrected. Trials with live bombs were carried out in the 1980s; the F-14 was cleared to use basic iron bombs in 1992. In Operation Desert Storm, most air-to-ground missions were left to A-7 and F/A-18 squadrons, the F-14 focused on air defense operations. Following Desert Storm, F-14As and F-14Bs underwent upgrades to avionics and cockpit displays to enable the use of precision munitions, enhance defensive systems, and apply structural improvements. The new avionics were comparable with the F-14D; upgraded aircraft were designated F-14A (Upgrade) and F-14B (Upgrade) respectively.

By 1994 Grumman and the Navy were proposing ambitious plans for Tomcat upgrades to plug that gap between the retirement of the A-6 and F/A-18E/F Super Hornet entering service. However, the upgrades would have taken too long to implement to meet the gap, and were priced in the billions; Congress considered this too expensive for an interim solution. A quick, inexpensive upgrade using the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN
LANTIRN
Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night, or LANTIRN, is a combined navigation and targeting pod system for use on the USAF's premier fighter aircraft — the F-15E Strike Eagle and F-16 Fighting Falcon...

) targeting pod was devised. The LANTIRN pod provided the F-14 with a forward-looking infrared (FLIR) camera for night operations and a laser target designator to direct laser guided bombs (LGB). Although LANTIRN is traditionally a two-pod system, an AN/AAQ-13 navigation pod with terrain-following radar and a wide-angle FLIR, along with an AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod with a steerable FLIR and a laser target designator, the decision was made to only use the targeting pod. The Tomcat's LANTIRN pod was altered and improved over the baseline configuration, such as a Global Positioning System / Inertial Navigation System (GPS-INS) capability to allow an F-14 to accurately locate itself. The pod was carried on the right wing glove pylon.

The LANTIRN pod did not require changes to the F-14's own system software. The LANTIRN Pod is designed to operate on a MIL-STD-1553B bus not present on the F-14A or B, thus Martin Marietta specially developed an interface card for LANTIRN. The RIO would receive pod imagery on a 10-inch Programmable Tactical Information Display (PTID) or another Multi-Function Display in the F-14D, and guided LGBs using a new hand controller. Initially the hand controller replaced the RIO's TARPS control panel, meaning a Tomcat configured for LANTIRN could not carry TARPS and the reverse, but eventually a workaround was developed to allow a Tomcat to carry LANTIRN or TARPS as needed. An upgraded LANTIRN named "LANTIRN 40K" for operations up to 40000 ft (12,192 m) was introduced in 2001, followed by Tomcat Tactical Targeting (T3) and Fast Tactical Imagery (FTI), to provide precise target coordinate determination and ability to transmit images.

Tomcats also added the ability to carry the GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) in 2003, giving it the option of a variety of LGB and GPS-guided weapons. Some F-14Ds were upgraded in 2005 with a ROVER III
ROVER
ROVER, which stands for Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, is a system which allows ground forces, such as Forward Air Controllers , to see what an aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle is seeing in real time by receiving images acquired by the aircraft's sensors on a laptop on the ground...

 Full Motion Video (FMV) downlink, a system that transmits real-time images from the aircraft's sensors to the laptop of Forward Air Controller
Forward air control
Forward air control is the provision of guidance to Close Air Support aircraft intended to ensure that their attack hits the intended target and does not injure friendly troops. This task is carried out by a forward air controller . For NATO forces the qualifications and experience required to be...

 (FAC) on the ground.

Overview


The F-14 Tomcat was designed as both an air superiority fighter and a long-range naval interceptor. The F-14 has a two-seat cockpit with a bubble canopy
Bubble canopy
A bubble canopy is a canopy made like a soap bubble, which attempts to provide 360° vision to the pilot.-History:Bubble canopies have been in use since World War II. The British had already developed the "Malcolm hood", which was a bulged canopy, but the British Miles M.20 was one of the first...

 that affords all-round visibility. It features variable geometry wings that swing automatically during flight. For high-speed intercept, they are swept back and they swing forward for lower speed flight. It was designed to improve on the F-4 Phantom's air combat performance in most respects. The F-14's fuselage and wings allow it to climb faster than the F-4, while the twin-tail arrangement offers better stability. The F-14 is equipped with an internal 20 mm M61 Vulcan
M61 Vulcan
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically or pneumatically driven, six-barreled, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-wing aircraft...

 Gatling
Gatling gun
The Gatling gun is one of the best known early rapid-fire weapons and a forerunner of the modern machine gun. It is well known for its use by the Union forces during the American Civil War in the 1860s, which was the first time it was employed in combat...

-type gun mounted on the left side, and can carry AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-9 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles.

Fuselage and wings



The fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

 consists of a large flat area called the "pancake" between the engine nacelles and, by itself, provides about 40% of the F-14's aerodynamic lifting surface. Fuel, electronics, flight controls, and the wing-sweep mechanism are all housed in the fuselage "pancake". The wings pivot from two extensions on either side of the "pancake", called wing gloves. The twin engines are housed in nacelles
Podded engine
A podded engine is a jet engine in a pod, typically attached below the wing or to the tail of the aircraft. The pod itself is called a nacelle....

 below and slightly to the rear, with the fuselage smoothly blending into the shape of the exhaust nozzles. The nacelles are spaced apart 1 foot. This produces a wide tunnel between the nacelles which causes some drag, but adds considerable lift and pitching ability. The resultant tunnel provides space to carry Phoenix or Sparrow missiles, assorted bombs, or the TARPS reconnaissance pod, and increases fuel capacity and room for equipment.

The F-14's wing sweep can be varied between 20° and 68° in flight, and can be automatically controlled by the Central Air Data Computer
Central Air Data Computer
The Central Air Data Computer is the integrated flight control system used in the early versions of the US Navy's F-14 Tomcat fighter. It is notable for its early use of a custom-designed MOS-based LSI chipset, the MP944....

 when the pilot selects "auto" wingsweep mode. This maintains the wing sweep to give the optimum lift-to-drag ratio
Lift-to-drag ratio
In aerodynamics, the lift-to-drag ratio, or L/D ratio, is the amount of lift generated by a wing or vehicle, divided by the drag it creates by moving through the air...

 as the Mach number
Mach number
Mach number is the speed of an object moving through air, or any other fluid substance, divided by the speed of sound as it is in that substance for its particular physical conditions, including those of temperature and pressure...

 varies, but the system can be manually overridden by the pilot if necessary. When the aircraft is parked, the wings can be "overswept" to 75°, where they overlap the horizontal stabilizers to save space on crowded carrier decks. In an emergency, the F-14 can land with the wings fully swept to 68°, although this is far from optimal and presents a significant safety hazard due to greatly increased airspeed. An aircraft is typically diverted from the aircraft carrier to a landing field ashore in the rare event that would occur. The F-14 has also flown and landed safely with the wings swept asymmetrically even from an aircraft carrier in emergencies.

The wings have a two-spar structure with integral fuel tanks. Much of the structure, including the wing box, wing pivots and upper and lower wing skins is made of titanium
Titanium
Titanium is a chemical element with the symbol Ti and atomic number 22. It has a low density and is a strong, lustrous, corrosion-resistant transition metal with a silver color....

, a light, rigid and strong material, but also difficult to weld, and costly. Aileron
Aileron
Ailerons are hinged flight control surfaces attached to the trailing edge of the wing of a fixed-wing aircraft. The ailerons are used to control the aircraft in roll, which results in a change in heading due to the tilting of the lift vector...

s are not fitted, with roll control being provided by wing mounted spoilers
Spoiler (aeronautics)
In aeronautics, a spoiler is a device intended to reduce lift in an aircraft. Spoilers are plates on the top surface of a wing which can be extended upward into the airflow and spoil it. By doing so, the spoiler creates a carefully controlled stall over the portion of the wing behind it, greatly...

 at low speed (which are disabled if the sweep angle exceeds 57°), and by differential operation of the all-moving tailerons at high speed. Full-span slats
Leading edge slats
Slats are aerodynamic surfaces on the leading edge of the wings of fixed-wing aircraft which, when deployed, allow the wing to operate at a higher angle of attack. A higher coefficient of lift is produced as a result of angle of attack and speed, so by deploying slats an aircraft can fly at slower...

 and flaps
Flap (aircraft)
Flaps are normally hinged surfaces mounted on the trailing edges of the wings of a fixed-wing aircraft to reduce the speed an aircraft can be safely flown at and to increase the angle of descent for landing without increasing air speed. They shorten takeoff and landing distances as well as...

 are used to increase lift both for landing and combat, with slats being set at 17° for landing and 7° for combat, while flaps are set at 35° for landing and 10° for combat. The twin tail layout helps in maneuvers at high AoA (angle of attack) while reducing the height of the aircraft to fit within the limited roof clearance of hangar
Hangar
A hangar is a closed structure to hold aircraft or spacecraft in protective storage. Most hangars are built of metal, but other materials such as wood and concrete are also sometimes used...

s aboard aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s. Two under-engine nacelle mount points are provided for external fuel tanks carrying an additional 4000 lb (1,814.4 kg) of fuel.

Two triangular shaped retractable surfaces, called glove vanes, were originally mounted in the forward part of the wing glove, and could be automatically extended by the flight control system at high Mach numbers. They were used to generate additional lift ahead of the aircraft's center of gravity
Center of gravity
In physics, a center of gravity of a material body is a point that may be used for a summary description of gravitational interactions. In a uniform gravitational field, the center of mass serves as the center of gravity...

, thus helping to compensate for the nose-down pitching tendencies at supersonic speeds. Automatically deployed at above Mach 1.4, they allowed the F-14 to pull 7.5 g at Mach 2 and could be manually extended with wings swept full aft. They were later disabled, however, owing to their additional weight and complexity.

The air brakes
Air brake (aircraft)
In aeronautics, air brakes or speedbrakes are a type of flight control surface used on an aircraft to increase drag or increase the angle of approach during landing....

 consist of top-and-bottom extendable surfaces at the rearmost portion of the fuselage, between the engine nacelles. The bottom surface is split into left and right halves, with the arrestor hook hanging between the two halves. This arrangement is sometimes called the "castor tail", or "beavertail". The Tomcat has fully mechanical flying controls, with the only exception being the spoilers, which are hydro-electrically driven.

Engines and landing gear


Two rectangular air intakes located under the wings fed two Pratt & Whitney TF30 (or JT10A) engines, which were relatively powerful for the time (5.670/9.480 kg/t) and being turbofans allowed reduced fuel consumption while cruising, which was important for long patrol missions.

Both air intakes have movable ramps and bleed doors that are operated by the air data computer to enable enough air to enter the engine while keeping shockwaves away from the engine. The exhausts also feature variable nozzles with moving petals that open or close depending on engine state. The TF30 engine left much to be desired both in power and reliability. John Lehman
John Lehman
John F. Lehman, Jr. is an American investment banker and writer who served as Secretary of the Navy in the Reagan administration and in 2003–04 was a member of the 9/11 Commission....

, Secretary of the Navy
United States Secretary of the Navy
The Secretary of the Navy of the United States of America is the head of the Department of the Navy, a component organization of the Department of Defense...

, told Congress that the F-14/TF30 combination was "probably the worst engine/airframe mismatch we have had in years" and said that the TF30 was "a terrible engine", with F-14 accidents attributed to engine failures accounting for 28% of overall losses. Cracks in the turbines were dangerous to the point that the engine bay was reinforced in case of blade failure, to help reduce damage to the rest of the aircraft. The TF30 engines were also extremely prone to compressor stall
Compressor stall
A compressor stall is a situation of abnormal airflow resulting from a stall of the aerofoils within the compressor of a jet engine. Stall is found in dynamic compressors, particularly axial compressors, as used in jet engines and turbochargers for reciprocating engines.Compressor stalls result in...

s, which could easily result in loss of control due to the wide engine spacing, which causes severe yaw oscillations and can lead to an unrecoverable flat spin. At specific altitudes, the exhaust from a launched missile could cause the engine compressor to stall. This resulted in the development of a bleed system that temporarily reduced the power of the engine and blocked the frontal intake during missile launch. The overall thrust-to-weight ratio
Thrust-to-weight ratio
Thrust-to-weight ratio is a ratio of thrust to weight of a rocket, jet engine, propeller engine, or a vehicle propelled by such an engine. It is a dimensionless quantity and is an indicator of the performance of the engine or vehicle....

 at maximum takeoff weight is around 0.56, which does not compare favorably with the F-15A's ratio of 0.85. The aircraft had an official maximum speed of Mach 2.34. Internal fuel capacity is 2400 gal: 290 gal in each wing, 690 gal in a series of tanks aft of the cockpit, and a further 457 gal in two feeder tanks. It can carry two 267 gal external drop tanks under the engine intakes. There is also an air-to-air refueling probe, which folds into the starboard nose. The F-14 with General Electric F110
General Electric F110
-External links:* - The F110 Engine Family* - F110-GE-100 Gallery* - F110* - General Electric F110...

 engines had a thrust-to-weight ratio of 0.73 at maximum weight and 0.88 at normal takeoff weight.

The undercarriage is very robust, in order to withstand the harsh takeoffs and landings necessary for carrier operation. It comprises a double nose wheel and widely spaced single main wheels. There are no hardpoints on the sweeping parts of the wings, and so all the armaments are fitted on the belly between the air intakes and on pylons under the wing gloves (external fuel tanks can also be mounted directly below the intakes to increase the F-14's range, as seen in the image above).

Avionics and flight controls


The cockpit
Cockpit
A cockpit or flight deck is the area, usually near the front of an aircraft, from which a pilot controls the aircraft. Most modern cockpits are enclosed, except on some small aircraft, and cockpits on large airliners are also physically separated from the cabin...

 has two seats, arranged in tandem
Tandem
Tandem is an arrangement where a team of machines, animals or people are lined up one behind another, all facing in the same direction....

. The pilot and radar intercept officer (RIO) sit in Martin-Baker GRU-7A rocket-propelled ejection seats, rated from zero altitude and zero airspeed up to 450 knots. They have a 360° view in a canopy that is also fitted with four mirrors, one for the RIO and the others for the pilot. The canopy is still fairly traditional; being in three parts, but the overall structure is large and gives good visibility. The crews have classical controls and many older instruments, with an analog-digital hybrid lay out. Only the pilot has flight controls. No dual control version was ever made for the F-14, so the pilot starts to learn how to fly the machine using other aircraft and simulators
Flight simulator
A flight simulator is a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flight and various aspects of the flight environment. This includes the equations that govern how aircraft fly, how they react to applications of their controls and other aircraft systems, and how they react to the external...

. The main control systems are a HUD
Head-Up Display
A head-up display or heads-up display is any transparent display that presents data without requiring users to look away from their usual viewpoints...

 made by Kaiser, a VDI and a HSD display, that gives data on airspeed, navigation and other information.

The Tomcat was also notable for its Central Air Data Computer
Central Air Data Computer
The Central Air Data Computer is the integrated flight control system used in the early versions of the US Navy's F-14 Tomcat fighter. It is notable for its early use of a custom-designed MOS-based LSI chipset, the MP944....

, the integrated flight control system used in the early versions of the fighter. It used a MOS-based LSI chipset, the MP944, making it a candidate for the first microprocessor
Microprocessor
A microprocessor incorporates the functions of a computer's central processing unit on a single integrated circuit, or at most a few integrated circuits. It is a multipurpose, programmable device that accepts digital data as input, processes it according to instructions stored in its memory, and...

 design in history. The CADC was designed and built by Garrett AiResearch
Garrett AiResearch
Garrett AiResearch was a manufacturer of turboprop engines and turbochargers, and a pioneer in numerous aerospace technologies. It was previously known as Aircraft Tool and Supply Company, Garrett Supply Company, AiResearch Manufacturing Company, or simply AiResearch...

.

The nose of the aircraft is large because it carries not only the two person crew, but also a large number of avionics
Avionics
Avionics are electronic systems used on aircraft, artificial satellites and spacecraft.Avionic systems include communications, navigation, the display and management of multiple systems and the hundreds of systems that are fitted to aircraft to meet individual roles...

 systems. The ECM and navigation suite are extremely comprehensive and complex. The main element is the Hughes AWG-9 X-band radar, which in the initial version included a lightweight 5400B digital system with 32 kilobytes of RAM
Ram
-Animals:*Ram, an uncastrated male sheep*Ram cichlid, a species of freshwater fish endemic to Colombia and Venezuela-Military:*Battering ram*Ramming, a military tactic in which one vehicle runs into another...

. The antenna dish is a 36 in (91.4 cm) wide planar array, uses 10 kW of power, and has integrated IFF antennas. There are available several search and tracking modes, such as Track-While-Scan (TWS), Range-While-Search (RWS), Pulse-Doppler Single-Target Track (PDSTT), and Jam Angle Track (JAT). A maximum of 24 targets can be tracked simultaneously, and six can be engaged in TWS mode up to around 60 mi (96.6 km). Pulse-only STT mode has a maximum range of around 96 statute miles (150 km). The maximum search range can exceed 120 statute miles (190 km) and even a fighter can be locked onto at around 72–90 statute miles (120–140 km). Cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

s are also possible targets with the AWG-9, since this radar can lock onto and track even small objects at low altitude when in a Pulse-Doppler mode. The radar antenna dish is in the nose, and most of the radar avionics are located just behind the nose, near the pilot's position. Other avionics (such as IFF, communication radios, direction-finding equipment, etc.) are near the RIO's position, and are mostly integrated into the AWG-9 display system.

Tomcats also feature electronic countermeasures (ECM)
Electronic countermeasures
An electronic countermeasure is an electrical or electronic device designed to trick or deceive radar, sonar or other detection systems, like infrared or lasers. It may be used both offensively and defensively to deny targeting information to an enemy...

 and radar warning (RWR) systems, chaff
Chaff (radar countermeasure)
Chaff, originally called Window by the British, and Düppel by the Second World War era German Luftwaffe , is a radar countermeasure in which aircraft or other targets spread a cloud of small, thin pieces of aluminium, metallized glass fibre or plastic, which either appears as a cluster of secondary...

/flare
Flare (countermeasure)
A flare is an aerial infrared countermeasure to counter an infrared homing surface-to-air missile or air-to-air missile. Flares are commonly composed of a pyrotechnic composition based on magnesium or another hot-burning metal, with burning temperature equal to or hotter than engine exhaust...

 dispensers in the tail, fighter-to-fighter data link, and a precise inertial navigation system. The early navigation system was purely inertial. Initial coordinates were programmed into the navigation computer, and a gyroscope in the system would track the aircraft's every motion. These aircraft motions were sent to the navigation computer, allowing it to calculate the jet's distance and direction from the initial starting point. Later, GPS was integrated into this inertial system, providing not only more precise navigation, but providing redundancy in case either system failed.

The chaff/flare dispensers were located on the belly, at the very tip of the tail, just to one side of the arresting hook. The dispenser contained several cylinders, into which either flares or chaff could be loaded in any combination. The RWR system was arranged with 4 antennae around the aircraft, and could roughly calculate the direction and the distance of many different types of radar from various aircraft and missile types. The RWR set could also display the status of the tracking aircraft's radar. It could differentiate between search radar, tracking radar, and missile-homing radar. The electronic countermeasures system could analyze incoming radar signals and send confusing radar signals back to the source.

The original set of sensors also comprised an infrared
Infrared
Infrared light is electromagnetic radiation with a wavelength longer than that of visible light, measured from the nominal edge of visible red light at 0.74 micrometres , and extending conventionally to 300 µm...

 sensor under the nose in a "chin pod": it was AN/ALR-23 with indium antimonide
Indium(III) antimonide
Indium antimonide is a crystalline compound made from the elements indium and antimony . It is a narrow-gap semiconductor material from the III-V group used in infrared detectors, including thermal imaging cameras, FLIR systems, infrared homing missile guidance systems, and in infrared astronomy...

 detectors, cooled by a self-contained Stirling cycle
Stirling cycle
The Stirling cycle is a thermodynamic cycle that describes the general class of Stirling devices. This includes the original Stirling engine that was invented, developed and patented in 1816 by Reverend Dr...

 cryogenic system, but this proved ineffective, and was replaced with a new system. This was an optical system, Northrop AAX-1, also called TCS (TV Camera Set) and was used to help pilots visually identify and track aircraft, at least on day missions, up to a range of more than 60 miles (96.6 km) for large aircraft (a zoom function was included to help with small fighters). The TCS could be "slaved" to the radar to follow whatever the radar is tracking, and the radar could be slaved to the TCS to track whatever the camera "sees." Both the crew have access to the images on their displays. Despite its utility, for a long time most F-14s did not have the system added. Bill Gunston reported that even in 1983, only one in eight aircraft had the system fitted.

A dual IR/TCS system was adopted for the later F-14D variant, with an ECM antenna fitted as well in the same mast. This meant Tomcats could be configured with only an ECM antenna, or the IR sensor, or TCS, or many combinations thereof. The Tomcat's ESM system consists of many subsystems: RWR, ECM, and chaff/flare dispensers in various parts of the fuselage, nose, tail and wings. This was a marked difference with many previous fighter aircraft in that some did not even include a simple RWR.

Armament


The F-14 was designed to combat highly maneuverable aircraft as well as the Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 cruise missile
Cruise missile
A cruise missile is a guided missile that carries an explosive payload and is propelled, usually by a jet engine, towards a land-based or sea-based target. Cruise missiles are designed to deliver a large warhead over long distances with high accuracy...

 and bomber threats. The Tomcat was to be a platform for the AIM-54 Phoenix, but unlike the canceled F-111B
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...

, it could also engage medium and short range threats with other weapons. The F-14 was an air superiority fighter, not just a long-range interceptor. Over 6700 kg (14,771 lb) of stores could be carried for combat missions on several hardpoint
Hardpoint
A hardpoint, or weapon station, is any part of an airframe designed to carry an external load. This includes a point on the wing or fuselage of military aircraft where external ordnance, countermeasures, gun pods, targeting pods or drop tanks can be mounted.-Rail launchers:Large missiles and...

s under the fuselage and under the wings. Commonly, this meant a maximum of two–four Phoenixes or Sparrows on the belly stations, two Phoenixes/Sparrows on the wing hardpoints, and two Sidewinders on the wing hardpoints. The F-14 was also fitted with an internal 20 mm M61 Vulcan
M61 Vulcan
The M61 Vulcan is a hydraulically or pneumatically driven, six-barreled, air-cooled, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary cannon which fires 20 mm rounds at an extremely high rate. The M61 and its derivatives have been the principal cannon armament of United States military fixed-wing aircraft...

 Gatling-type cannon.

Operationally, the capability to hold up to six Phoenix missiles was never used, although early testing was conducted; there was never a threat requirement to engage six hostile targets simultaneously and the load was too heavy to recover aboard an aircraft carrier. During the height of Cold War operations in the late 1970s and 1980s, the typical weapon loadout on carrier-deployed F-14s was usually only one AIM-54 Phoenix, augmented by two AIM-9 Sidewinders, two AIM-7 Sparrow IIIs, a full loadout of 20 mm
20 mm caliber
The 20 mm caliber is a specific size of cannon or autocannon ammunition, commonly the smallest caliber which is unambiguously a cannon and not a heavy machine gun....

 ammunition and two drop tanks. The Phoenix missile was used twice in combat by the US Navy, both over Iraq in 1999, but the missiles didn't score any kills.

Operational history


The F-14 Tomcat was the US Navy's primary air superiority fighter and tactical reconnaissance platform from 1972 to 2006. The F-14 has served in Iran's Air Force from 1978 to the present.

United States Navy


The F-14 began replacing the F-4 Phantom II in US Navy service starting in September 1974 with squadrons VF-1 Wolfpack
VF-1
This article is about the fighter squadron; for the mecha seen in Macross/Robotech, see VF-1 Valkyrie.Fighter Squadron 1 was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy. Known as the "Wolfpack" the squadron saw combat during World War II, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm...

 and VF-2 Bounty Hunters aboard and participated in the American withdrawal from Saigon
Operation Frequent Wind
Operation Frequent Wind was the evacuation by helicopter of American civilians and 'at-risk' Vietnamese from Saigon, South Vietnam, on 29–30 April 1975 during the last days of the Vietnam War...

. The F-14 had its first kills in U.S. Navy service, on 19 August 1981 over the Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

 in what is known as the Gulf of Sidra incident
Gulf of Sidra incident (1981)
In the first Gulf of Sidra incident, 19 August 1981, two Libyan Su-22 Fitter attack aircraft were shot down by two American F-14 Tomcats off of the Libyan coast.-Background:...

. In that engagement two F-14s from VF-41 Black Aces
VFA-41
Strike Fighter Squadron 41 also known as the "Black Aces", is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California ....

 were engaged by two Libyan Su-22 "Fitters"
Sukhoi Su-17
The Sukhoi Su-17 is a Soviet attack aircraft developed from the Sukhoi Su-7 fighter-bomber. It enjoyed a long career in Soviet, later Russian, service and was widely exported to communist and Middle Eastern air forces, under names Su-20 and Su-22.-Development:Seeking to improve low-speed and...

. The F-14s evaded the short range heat seeking AA-2 "Atoll"
Vympel K-13
The K-13 is an short-range, infrared homing air-to-air missile developed by the Soviet Union. It is similar in appearance and function to the American AIM-9 Sidewinder from which it was reverse-engineered...

 missile and returned fire, downing both Libyan aircraft. U.S. Navy F-14s once again were pitted against Libyan aircraft on 4 January 1989, when two F-14s from VF-32
VFA-32
The "Fighting Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron THIRTY-TWO are a United States Navy strike fighter squadron presently flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet and based ashore at Naval Air Station Oceana...

 shot down two Libyan MiG-23 "Floggers"
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23 is a variable-geometry fighter aircraft, designed by the Mikoyan-Gurevich design bureau in the Soviet Union. It is considered to belong to the Soviet third generation jet fighter category, along with similarly aged Soviet fighters such as the MiG-25 "Foxbat"...

 over the Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra
Gulf of Sidra is a body of water in the Mediterranean Sea on the northern coast of Libya; it is also known as Gulf of Sirte or the Great Sirte or Greater Syrtis .- Geography :The Gulf of Sidra has been a major centre for tuna fishing in the Mediterranean for centuries...

 in a second Gulf of Sidra incident
Gulf of Sidra incident (1989)
The second Gulf of Sidra incident occurred on 4 January 1989 when two US F-14 Tomcats shot down two Libyan MiG-23 Flogger-Es that gave all appearances of attempting to engage them, as had happened seven years prior in the first Gulf of Sidra incident ....

.

Its first sustained combat use was as a photo reconnaissance platform. The Tomcat was selected to inherit the reconnaissance mission upon departure of the dedicated RA-5C Vigilante
A-5 Vigilante
The North American A-5 Vigilante was a carrier-based supersonic bomber designed for the United States Navy. Its service in the nuclear strike role to replace the A-3 Skywarrior was very short; however, as the RA-5C, it saw extensive service during the Vietnam War in the tactical strike...

 and RF-8G Crusaders from the fleet. A large pod called the Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System
Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System
The Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System is a large and sophisticated camera pod carried by the F-14 Tomcat. It contains three camera bays with different type cameras which are pointed down at passing terrain. It was originally designed to provide an interim reconnaissance capability until...

 (TARPS) was developed and fielded on the Tomcat in 1981. With the retirement of the last RF-8G Crusaders in 1982, TARPS F-14s became the U.S. Navy's primary tactical reconnaissance system. One of two Tomcat squadrons per airwing was designated as a TARPS unit and received 3 TARPS capable aircraft and training for 4 TARPS aircrews.

While the Tomcat was being used by Iran in combat against Iraq in its intended air superiority mission over the skies of Iran in the early 1980s, the US Navy found itself flying regular daily combat missions over Lebanon to photograph activity in the Bekaa Valley. At the time, the Tomcat had been thought too large and vulnerable to be used overland, but the need for imagery was so great that Tomcat aircrews developed high speed medium altitude tactics to deal with considerable AAA and SA-7 SAM threat in the Bekaa area. The first exposure of a Navy Tomcat to a SA-2 was over Somalia in April 1983 when a local battery was unaware of two Tomcats scheduled for a TARPS missions in prelude to an upcoming international exercise in vicinity of Berbera. An SA-2 was fired at the second Tomcat while conducting 10 thousand foot mapping profile at max conserve setting. The Tomcat aircrews spotted the missile launch and dove for the deck thereby evading it without damage. The unexpected demand for combat TARPS laid the way for high altitude sensors such as the KA-93 36 in (91.4 cm) Long Range Optics (LOROP) to be rapidly procured for the Tomcat as well as an Expanded Chaff Adapter (ECA) to be incorporated in a AIM-54 Phoenix Rail. Commercial "Fuzz buster" type radar detectors were also procured and mounted in pairs in the forward cockpit as a stop gap solution to detect SAM radars such as the SA-6. The ultimate solution was an upgrade to the ALR-67 then being developed, but it would not be ready until the advent of the F-14A+ in the latter 1980s. During the Gulf of Sidra operations in 1986, the Tomcats were used in over-water missions only due to their vulnerability overland. It was not until Desert Shield that US Navy Tomcats were introduced to overland combat operations on a regular basis.

The participation of the F-14 Tomcat in the 1991 Operation Desert Storm
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 consisted of Combat Air Patrol (CAP) over the Red Sea and Persian Gulf and overland missions consisting of strike escort and reconnaissance. Until the waning days of Desert Storm, in-country air superiority was tasked to USAF F-15 Eagle
F-15 Eagle
The McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle is a twin-engine, all-weather tactical fighter designed by McDonnell Douglas to gain and maintain air superiority in aerial combat. It is considered among the most successful modern fighters with over 100 aerial combat victories with no losses in dogfights...

s due to the way the Air Tasking Orders (ATO) delegated primary overland CAP stations to the F-15 Eagle. The governing Rules of Engagement (ROE) also dictated a strict Identification Friend or Foe (IFF) requirement when employing Beyond Visual Range weapons such as the AIM-7 Sparrow and particularly the AIM-54 Phoenix. This hampered the Tomcat from using its most powerful weapon. Furthermore, the powerful emissions from the AWG-9 radar are detectable at great range with a radar warning receiver
Radar warning receiver
Radar warning receiver systems detect the radio emissions of radar systems. Their primary purpose is to issue a warning when a radar signal that might be a threat is detected. The warning can then be used, manually or automatically, to evade the detected threat...

. Iraqi fighters routinely displayed countertactics as soon as the Tomcats "lit them up" with the AWG-9. The US Navy suffered its only F-14 loss from enemy action on 21 January 1991 when b/n 161430, an F-14A upgraded to an F-14A+, from VF-103
VFA-103
Strike Fighter Squadron 103 , nicknamed the Jolly Rogers is an aviation unit of the United States Navy established in 1952. VFA-103 flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet and is based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia...

 was shot down by an SA-2
S-75 Dvina
The S-75 Dvina is a Soviet-designed, high-altitude, command guided, surface-to-air missile system...

 surface-to-air missile while on an escort mission near Al Asad
Al Asad
Al Asad Airbase is the second largest US military airbase in Iraq and is located in the largely Sunni western Province of Iraq Al Anbar. It was formerly the home of the II Marine Expeditionary Force until January 2010...

 airbase in Iraq. Both crew survived ejection with the pilot being rescued by USAF Special Operations Forces and the RIO being captured and held by Iraqi troops as a POW until the end of the war. The F-14 also achieved its final kill, an Mi-8
Mil Mi-8
The Mil Mi-8 is a medium twin-turbine transport helicopter that can also act as a gunship. The Mi-8 is the world's most-produced helicopter, and is used by over 50 countries. Russia is the largest operator of the Mi-8/Mi-17 helicopter....

 "Hip" helicopter, with an AIM-9 Sidewinder.

In 1995, F-14s from VF-14
VFA-14
The Strike Fighter Squadron 14 "Tophatters" are a United States Navy fighter attack squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore. They fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet, and are the Navy's oldest active squadron, having formed in 1919...

 and VF-41
VFA-41
Strike Fighter Squadron 41 also known as the "Black Aces", is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California ....

 participated in Operation Deliberate Force as well as Operation Allied Force
Operation Allied Force
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

 in 1999, and in 1998, VF-32 and VF-213 participated in Operation Desert Fox. On 15 February 2001 the Joint Direct Attack Munition or JDAM was added to the Tomcat's arsenal. On 7 October 2001, F-14s would lead some of the first strikes into Afghanistan
Afghanistan
Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

 marking the start of Operation Enduring Freedom and the first F-14 drop of a JDAM occurred on 11 March 2002. F-14s from VF-2, VF-31
VF-31
VFA-31 or Strike Fighter Squadron 31 is known as the Tomcatters, callsign "Felix", a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet.-Squadron insignia and nickname:...

, VF-32, VF-154, and VF-213 would also participate in Operation Iraqi Freedom. The F-14Ds of VF-2, VF-31, and VF-213 obtained JDAM capability in March 2003. On 10 December 2005, the F-14Ds of VF-31 and VF-213 were upgraded with a ROVER III downlink for transmitting images to a ground Forward Air Controller (FAC). The F-14s of VF-31 and VF-213 deployed on their last combat cruise on in 2005.

Replacement and retirement


While the F-14 had been developed as a light weight alternative to the 80000 lb (36,287.4 kg) F-111B
General Dynamics F-111
The General Dynamics F-111 "Aardvark" was a medium-range interdictor and tactical strike aircraft that also filled the roles of strategic bomber, reconnaissance, and electronic warfare in its various versions. Developed in the 1960s by General Dynamics, it first entered service in 1967 with the...

, the F-14 was still the largest and most expensive fighter of its time. VFAX
VFAX
VFAX for Naval Fighter Attack Experimental was actually two specifications for two US Naval fighter projects. The first was for a low cost lightweight complement for the F-111B which could replace the F-4 Phantom II for air superiority, escort, and ground attack missions in the early 1960s. This...

 was revived in the 1970s as a lower cost solution to replacing the Navy and Marine Corps's fleets of F-4s, and A-7s. VFAX was directed to review the fighters in the USAF Light Weight Fighter
Light Weight Fighter
The Lightweight Fighter program was a U.S. Air Force technology evaluation program initiated in the 1960s by a cabal of officers and defense analysts known as the "Fighter Mafia"...

 competition, which led to the development of the F/A-18 Hornet
F/A-18 Hornet
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a supersonic, all-weather carrier-capable multirole fighter jet, designed to dogfight and attack ground targets . Designed by McDonnell Douglas and Northrop, the F/A-18 was derived from the latter's YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and...

 as roughly a midsize fighter and attack aircraft.

In 1994, Congress would reject Grumman proposals to the Navy to upgrade the Tomcat beyond the D model (such as the Super Tomcat 21, the cheaper QuickStrike version, and the more advanced Attack Super Tomcat 21). Instead, the Navy elected to retire the F-14 and chose the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is a twin-engine carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft. The F/A-18E single-seat variant and F/A-18F tandem-seat variant are larger and more advanced derivatives of the F/A-18C and D Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm gun and can carry air-to-air...

 to fill the roles of fleet defense and strike formerly filled by the F-14. The last two F-14 squadrons, the VF-31 Tomcatters
VF-31
VFA-31 or Strike Fighter Squadron 31 is known as the Tomcatters, callsign "Felix", a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet.-Squadron insignia and nickname:...

 and the VF-213 Black Lions conducted their last fly-in at Naval Air Station Oceana
Naval Air Station Oceana
Naval Air Station Oceana or NAS Oceana is a military airport located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a United States Navy Master Jet Base. It is also known as Apollo Soucek Field, named after Lieutenant Apollo Soucek, a Navy Test Pilot who set the global altitude record in 1930 by flying a...

 on 10 March 2006.
The last American F-14 combat mission was completed on 8 February 2006, when a pair of Tomcats landed aboard the after one dropped a bomb over Iraq
Iraq
Iraq ; officially the Republic of Iraq is a country in Western Asia spanning most of the northwestern end of the Zagros mountain range, the eastern part of the Syrian Desert and the northern part of the Arabian Desert....

. During their final deployment with the , VF-31 and VF-213 collectively completed 1,163 combat sorties totaling 6,876 flight hours, and dropped 9500 lb (4,309.1 kg) of ordnance during reconnaissance, surveillance, and close air support missions in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. On 10 March 2006, the 22 planes from these squadrons flew in formation into Naval Air Station Oceana
Naval Air Station Oceana
Naval Air Station Oceana or NAS Oceana is a military airport located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, and is a United States Navy Master Jet Base. It is also known as Apollo Soucek Field, named after Lieutenant Apollo Soucek, a Navy Test Pilot who set the global altitude record in 1930 by flying a...

 after the last deployment of the F-14. VF-31 remained operational in the F-14 Tomcat under the Fleet Response Plan (FRP) through September and conducted the last carrier qualifications in late July maintaining their ability to deploy right up until the end. VF-213 and VF-31 would transition to the Super Hornet training.

The launched an F-14D, of VF-31, for the last time on 28 July 2006; piloted by Lt. Blake Coleman and Lt. Cmdr Dave Lauderbaugh as RIO. The "official" final flight retirement ceremony was on 22 September 2006 at Naval Air Station Oceana, and was flown by Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard and Lt. Mike Petronis as RIO in a backup F-14 after the primary aircraft experienced mechanical problems. The actual last flight of an F-14 in U.S. service took place 4 October 2006, when an F-14D of VF-31 was ferried from Oceana to Republic Airport on Long Island, NY.

The remaining intact F-14 aircraft in the US were stored at the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group "Boneyard", at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis-Monthan Air Force Base
Davis–Monthan Air Force Base is a United States Air Force base located within the city limits, and approximately south-southeast of downtown, Tucson, Arizona....

, Arizona. By July 2007, the remaining 165 aircraft were being shredded to prevent parts from being acquired by Iran, the only other nation to operate the F-14; as of that month, 23 F-14s had been shredded at a cost of US$900,000. The last remaining F-14 has been put on display at the National Naval Aviation Museum in Naval Air Station Pensacola
Naval Air Station Pensacola
Naval Air Station Pensacola or NAS Pensacola , "The Cradle of Naval Aviation", is a United States Navy base located next to Warrington, Florida, a community southwest of the Pensacola city limits...

, Florida.

Iran



The sole foreign customer for the Tomcat was the Imperial Iranian Air Force, during the reign of the last Shah
Shah
Shāh is the title of the ruler of certain Southwest Asian and Central Asian countries, especially Persia , and derives from the Persian word shah, meaning "king".-History:...

 (King) of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Reza Pahlavi
Mohammad Rezā Shāh Pahlavi, Shah of Iran, Shah of Persia , ruled Iran from 16 September 1941 until his overthrow by the Iranian Revolution on 11 February 1979...

.

In the early 1970s, the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) was searching for an advanced fighter, specifically one capable of intercepting Soviet
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 MiG-25 "Foxbat"
Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25
The Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 is a supersonic interceptor and reconnaissance aircraft that was among the fastest military aircraft to enter service. Designed by the Soviet Union's Mikoyan-Gurevich bureau the first prototype flew in 1964 with entry into service in 1970...

 reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 flights. After a visit of U.S. President Richard Nixon
Richard Nixon
Richard Milhous Nixon was the 37th President of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1974. The only president to resign the office, Nixon had previously served as a US representative and senator from California and as the 36th Vice President of the United States from 1953 to 1961 under...

 to Iran in 1972, during which Iran was offered the latest in American military technology, the IIAF narrowed its choice to the F-14 Tomcat or McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. Grumman Corporation arranged a competitive demonstration of the Eagle against the Tomcat before the Shah, and in January 1974, Iran ordered 30 F-14s and 424 AIM-54 Phoenix missiles, initiating Project Persian King, worth US$300 million. Only a few months later, this order was increased to a total of 80 Tomcats and 714 Phoenix missiles as well as spare parts and replacement engines for 10 years, complete armament package, and support infrastructure (including construction of the huge Khatami Air Base in the desert near Esfahan).

The first F-14 arrived in January 1976, modified only by the removal of classified avionics components, but fitted with the TF-30-414 engines. The following year 12 more were delivered. Meanwhile, training of the first groups of Iranian crews by the U.S. Navy, was underway in the USA; and one of these conducted a successful shoot-down with a Phoenix missile of a target drone flying at 50000 ft (15.2 km).

Following the overthrow of the Shah
Iranian Revolution
The Iranian Revolution refers to events involving the overthrow of Iran's monarchy under Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi and its replacement with an Islamic republic under Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the...

 in 1979, the air force was re-named the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) and the post-revolution interim government of Iran canceled most Western arms orders. In 1980 an Iranian F-14 shot down an Iraqi Mil Mi-25 helicopter for its first air to air kill during the Iran-Iraq conflict.
Knowledge about F-14 use by Iran is limited; deteriorating relations led to an arms embargo being imposed on Iran, including the last Tomcat built for Iran, which was embargoed and eventually turned over to the United States Navy. Large shipments of spares were held back, and many Iranian aircraft were cannibalized for spare parts. Iran had an estimated 44 F-14s, with some 20 operational by 2009. However, Iranian military sources say that, through building of spare parts and refurbishment, they now have 60 operational F-14s.

In January 2007, the US Department of Defense announced that sales of spare F-14 parts would be suspended over concerns of the parts ending up in Iran. In July 2007, the remaining American F-14s were shredded to ensure that any parts could not be acquired. In summer of 2010, Iran requested that the United States deliver the 80th F-14 it had purchased in 1974, but delivery was denied after the Islamic Revolution. In October 2010, an Iranian Air Force commander claimed that the country overhauls and optimizes different types of military aircraft, mentioning that Air Force has even installed Iran-made radar systems on the F-14.

Variants


A total of 712 F-14s were built from 1969 to 1991. F-14 assembly and test flights were performed at Grumman's plant in Calverton
Calverton, New York
Calverton is a hamlet in Suffolk County, New York, United States. The population was 5,704 at the 2000 census.The community is on the border of the Town of Riverhead and the Town of Brookhaven.-History:...

 on Long Island
Long Island
Long Island is an island located in the southeast part of the U.S. state of New York, just east of Manhattan. Stretching northeast into the Atlantic Ocean, Long Island contains four counties, two of which are boroughs of New York City , and two of which are mainly suburban...

, NY. Grumman facility at nearby Bethpage, NY
Bethpage, New York
Bethpage is a hamlet located on Long Island within the Town of Oyster Bay in Nassau County, New York, United States, as well as a census-designated place with borders slightly different from those of the hamlet...

 was directly involved in F-14 manufacturing and was home to its engineers. The airframes were partially assembled in Bethpage and then shipped to Calverton for final assembly. Various tests were also performed at the Bethpage Plant. Over 160 of the US aircraft were destroyed in accidents.

F-14A


The F-14A was the initial two-seat all-weather interceptor fighter variant for the US Navy. It first flew on 21 December 1970. The first 12 F-14As were prototype versions (sometimes called YF-14As). Modifications late in its service life added precision strike munitions to its armament. The US Navy received 478 F-14A aircraft and 79 were received by Iran. The final 102 F-14As were delivered with improved TF30-P-414A engines. Additionally, an 80th F-14A was manufactured for Iran, but was delivered to the US Navy.

F-14B


The F-14 received its first of many major upgrades in March 1987 with the F-14A Plus (or F-14A+). The F-14A's P&W TF30 engine was upgraded with the GE F110-400
General Electric F110
-External links:* - The F110 Engine Family* - F110-GE-100 Gallery* - F110* - General Electric F110...

. The F-14A+ also received the state-of-the-art ALR-67 Radar Homing and Warning (RHAW) system. Much of the avionics as well as the AWG-9 radar were retained. The F-14A+ was later redesignated F-14B on 1 May 1991. A total of 38 new aircraft were manufactured and 48 F-14A were upgraded into B variants.

The TF30 had been plagued from the start with susceptibility to compressor stall
Compressor stall
A compressor stall is a situation of abnormal airflow resulting from a stall of the aerofoils within the compressor of a jet engine. Stall is found in dynamic compressors, particularly axial compressors, as used in jet engines and turbochargers for reciprocating engines.Compressor stalls result in...

s at high AoA and during rapid throttle transients or above 30000 ft (9,144 m). The F110 engine provided a significant increase in thrust, producing 27600 lbf (122.8 kN) with afterburner. The increased thrust gave the Tomcat a better than 1:1 thrust-to-weight ratio at low fuel quantities. The basic engine thrust without afterburner was powerful enough for carrier launches, further increasing safety. Another benefit was allowing the Tomcat to cruise comfortably above 30000 ft (9,144 m), which increased its range and survivability. The F-14B arrived in time to participate in Desert Storm.

In the late 1990s, 67 F-14Bs were upgraded to extend airframe life and improve offensive and defensive avionics systems. The modified aircraft became known as F-14B Upgrade aircraft.

F-14D


The final variant of the F-14 was the F-14D Super Tomcat. The F-14D variant was first delivered in 1991. The original TF-30 engines were replaced with GE F110-400 engines, similar to the F-14B. The F-14D also included newer digital avionics systems including a glass cockpit
Glass cockpit
A glass cockpit is an aircraft cockpit that features electronic instrument displays, typically large LCD screens, as opposed to the traditional style of analog dials and gauges...

 and replaced the AWG-9 with the newer AN/APG-71 radar. Other systems included the Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ), Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), SJU-17(V) Naval Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES) and Infra-red search and track
Infra-red search and track
An infra-red search and track system is a method for detecting and tracking objects which give off infra-red radiation such as jet aircraft and helicopters. IRST is a generalized case of Forward Looking Infra-Red , i.e. from Forward-Looking to allround situational awareness...

 (IRST).

Although the F-14D was to be the definitive version of the Tomcat, not all fleet units received the D variant. In 1989, Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney
Dick Cheney
Richard Bruce "Dick" Cheney served as the 46th Vice President of the United States , under George W. Bush....

 refused to approve the purchase of any more F-14D model aircraft for $50 million each and pushed for a $25 million modernization of the F-14 fleet instead. Congress decided not to shut production down and funded 55 aircraft as part of a compromise. A total of 37 new aircraft were constructed and 18 F-14A were upgraded to D variants, designated F-14D(R) for rebuild. An upgrade to the F-14D's computer software to allow AIM-120 AMRAAM missile capability was planned but was later terminated.

While upgrades had kept the F-14 competitive with modern fighter aircraft technology, Cheney called the F-14 1960s technology. Despite some aggressive proposals from Grumman for a replacement, Cheney planned to replace the F-14 with a fighter that was not manufactured by Grumman. Cheney called the F-14 a "jobs program", and when the F-14 was canceled, an estimated 80,000 jobs of Grumman employees, subcontractors, or support personnel were affected. Starting in 2005, some F-14Ds received the ROVER III
ROVER
ROVER, which stands for Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver, is a system which allows ground forces, such as Forward Air Controllers , to see what an aircraft or unmanned aerial vehicle is seeing in real time by receiving images acquired by the aircraft's sensors on a laptop on the ground...

 upgrade.

Projected variants



The F-14B was initial planned improved version of the F-14A with more powerful "Advanced Technology Engine" F401 turbofans. The F-14C was a projected variant of this initial F-14B with advanced multimission avionics. Grumman also offered an F-14B interceptor version in response to an Air Force proposal to replace the Convair F-106 Delta Dart as an Aerospace Defense Command
Aerospace Defense Command
Aerospace Defense Command is an inactive United States Air Force Major Command. Established in 1946 under the United States Army Air Forces, its mission was to organize and administer the integrated air defense system of the Continental United States , exercise direct control of all active...

 interceptor in the 1970s. One example was built and test flown on 12 September 1973, however the F-14B program was terminated in April 1974.

Grumman proposed a few improved Super Tomcat versions. The first was the Quickstrike, which was an F-14D with navigational and targeting pods, additional attach points for weapons, and added ground attack capabilities to its radar. The Quickstrike was to fill the role of the A-6 Intruder
A-6 Intruder
The Grumman A-6 Intruder was an American, twin jet-engine, mid-wing attack aircraft built by Grumman Aerospace. In service with the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps between 1963 and 1997, the Intruder was designed as an all-weather medium attack aircraft to replace the piston-engined A-1 Skyraider...

 after it was retired. This was not considered enough of an improvement by Congress, so the company shifted to the Super Tomcat 21 proposed design. The Super Tomcat 21 was a proposed lower cost alternative to the Navy Advanced Tactical Fighter (NATF). The Grumman design would have the same shape and body as the Tomcat, and an upgraded AN/APG-71 radar. New GE F110-129 engines were to provide a supercruise speed of Mach 1.3 and featured thrust vectoring nozzles. The version would have increased fuel capacity and modified control surfaces for improved takeoffs and lower landing approach speed. The Attack Super Tomcat 21 version was the last Super Tomcat proposed design. It added even more fuel capacity, more improvements to control surfaces, and possibly an Active Electronically Scanned Array
Active Electronically Scanned Array
An Active Electronically Scanned Array , also known as active phased array radar is a type of phased array radar whose transmitter and receiver functions are composed of numerous small solid-state transmit/receive modules . AESAs aim their "beam" by broadcasting radio energy that interfere...

 (AESA) radar from the canceled A-12 attack aircraft. The last "Tomcat" variant was the ASF-14 (Advanced Strike Fighter-14), Grumman's replacement for the NATF concept. By all accounts, it would not be even remotely related to the previous Tomcats save in appearance, incorporating the new technology and design know-how from the Advanced Tactical Fighter
Advanced Tactical Fighter
The Advanced Tactical Fighter was a demonstration and validation program undertaken by the United States Air Force to develop a next-generation air superiority fighter to counter emerging worldwide threats, including Soviet Sukhoi Su-27 and Mikoyan MiG-29 fighters under development in the 1980s...

 (ATF) and Advanced Tactical Aircraft (ATA) programs. The ASF-14 would have been a new-build aircraft; however, its projected capabilities were not that much better than that of the (A)ST-21 variants. In the end the Attack Super Tomcat was considered to be too costly. The Navy decided to pursue the F/A-18E/F to fill the fighter-attack role.

Current operators



  • Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) squadrons
  • 72nd TFS: F-14A, 1976–present
  • 73rd TFS: F-14A, 1977–present
  • 81st TFS: F-14A, 1977–present
  • 82nd TFS: F-14A, 1978–present
  • 83rd TFS: F-14A, re-named former 73rd TFS

Former operators


  • United States Navy (USN) squadrons
  • Pacific Fleet
    • NFWS Navy Fighter Weapons School (TOPGUN) (Merged with Strike U to form Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center
      Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center
      The Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center at Naval Air Station Fallon located in the city of Fallon in western Nevada is the center of excellence for naval aviation training and tactics development...

       (NSAWC) 1996)
    • VF-1
      VF-1
      This article is about the fighter squadron; for the mecha seen in Macross/Robotech, see VF-1 Valkyrie.Fighter Squadron 1 was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy. Known as the "Wolfpack" the squadron saw combat during World War II, the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm...

       Wolfpack (Disestablished 30 September 1993)
    • VF-2 Bounty Hunters (Redesignated VFA-2
      VFA-2
      Strike Fighter Squadron 2 also known as the "Bounty Hunters" is a United States Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California. Their tail code is NE and their callsign is "Bullet"...

       with F/A-18F, 1 July 2003)
    • VF-21
      VF-21
      Fighter Squadron 21 Freelancers was an aviation unit of the United States Navy originally established in 1944 as VF-81. It was disestablished in 1996.-History:...

       Freelancers (Disestablished 31 January 1996)
    • VF-24
      VF-24
      VF-24 Fighter Squadron 24, called the Fighting Renegades was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy.-Background:Fighter Squadron 24 was originally commissioned as Fighter Squadron 211 in June 1955 at NAS Moffett Field. The unit flew the FJ-3 Fury aboard the . The squadron transitioned to the...

       Fighting Renegades (Disestablished 20 August 1996)
    • VF-51
      VF-51
      VF-51, Fighter Squadron 51 was an aviation unit of the United States Navy known as the "Screaming Eagles". The squadron established in 1943 and retired and its personnel reassigned in 1995.- History :...

       Screaming Eagles (Disestablished 31 March 1995)
    • VF-111
      VF-111
      Fighter Squadron 111 , also known as the Sundowners, was the designation held by two U.S. Navy fighter squadrons from 1942 to 1995. The first squadron, initially designated VF-11, served as an active Pacific Fleet Fighter Squadron until its disestablishment in 1959. At that time, another squadron...

       Sundowners (Disestablished 31 March 1995; reestablished as VFC-111
      VFC-111
      Composite Fighter Squadron 111 Sundowners is a US Navy Reserve adversary squadron based at Naval Air Station Key West, Florida...

       with Northrop F-5 F 1 November 2006)
    • VF-114
      VF-114
      Fighter Squadron 114 was a fighter squadron of the United States Navy that was active from 1945 through 1993. Nicknamed the "Aardvarks", it was based out of Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The squadron flew combat missions during the Korean War and Vietnam War...

       Aardvarks (Disestablished 30 April 1993)
    • VF-154 Black Knights (Redesignated VFA-154
      VFA-154
      Strike Fighter Squadron 154 , also known as "City Dump" throughout the Vietnam War, is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Lemoore. The "Dumpers" petitioned to have their call sign changed in the late 1970s to the Black Knights, and were granted the change. ...

       with F/A-18F, 1 October 2003)
    • VF-191
      VF-191
      VF-191 or Fighter Squadron 191 of the United States Navy was established in 1943 and disestablished in 1978. A second squadron, bearing the same designation was established for a short time again between 1986 and 1988.-History:...

       Satan's Kittens (Disestablished 30 April 1988)
    • VF-194
      VF-194
      Fighter squadron VF-194 Red Lightnings was an aviation unit of the United States Navy. It was established in 1952 and disestablished in 1978. It was reactivated for a short time again between 1986 and 1988.-Squadron linage:...

       Red Lightnings (Disestablished 30 April 1988)


  • Atlantic Fleet
    • VF-11 Red Rippers (Redesignated to VFA-11
      VFA-11
      Strike Fighter Squadron 11 , also known as the "Red Rippers", are a United States Navy fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia Beach, VA...

       with F/A-18F in May 2005)
    • VF-14 Tophatters (Redesignated VFA-14
      VFA-14
      The Strike Fighter Squadron 14 "Tophatters" are a United States Navy fighter attack squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore. They fly the F/A-18E Super Hornet, and are the Navy's oldest active squadron, having formed in 1919...

       with F/A-18E 1 December 2001)
    • VF-31
      VF-31
      VFA-31 or Strike Fighter Squadron 31 is known as the Tomcatters, callsign "Felix", a United States Navy strike fighter squadron stationed at Naval Air Station Oceana flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet.-Squadron insignia and nickname:...

       Tomcatters (Redesignated VFA-31 with F/A-18E October 2006)
    • VF-32 Swordsmen (Redesignated VFA-32
      VFA-32
      The "Fighting Swordsmen" of Strike Fighter Squadron THIRTY-TWO are a United States Navy strike fighter squadron presently flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet and based ashore at Naval Air Station Oceana...

       with F/A-18F on 1 October 2005)
    • VF-33
      VF-33
      Fighter Squadron 33 was an aviation unit of the United States Navy. The first VF-33 was originally commissioned in 6 August 1942 and disestablished on 19 November 1945. A second VF-33 was then reactivated on 11 October 1948...

       Starfighters (Disestablished 1 October 1993)
    • VF-41 Black Aces (Redesignated VFA-41
      VFA-41
      Strike Fighter Squadron 41 also known as the "Black Aces", is a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Lemoore, California ....

       with F/A-18F, 1 December 2001)
    • VF-74
      VF-74
      VF-74, Fighter Squadron 74, Be-Devilers was an aviation unit of the United States Navy in service from 1944 to 1994.-History:VF-74 was established on 16 April 1945 as VBF-20 flying the F4U-1 Corsair from NAS Wildwood in New Jersey. After six months they transitioned to the F6F Hellcat but soon...

       Bedevilers (Disestablished 30 April 1994)
    • VF-84
      VFA-103
      Strike Fighter Squadron 103 , nicknamed the Jolly Rogers is an aviation unit of the United States Navy established in 1952. VFA-103 flies the F/A-18F Super Hornet and is based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia...

       Jolly Rogers (Disestablished 1 October 1995; squadron heritage and nickname transferred to VF-103)
    • VF-102 Diamondbacks (Redesignated VFA-102
      VFA-102
      Strike Fighter Squadron 102 is a United States Navy Strike Fighter squadron based at NAF Atsugi. Their call sign is 'Diamondback', with the tail code "NF," and they fly the F/A-18F Super Hornet.-History:...

       with F/A-18F on 1 May 2002)
    • VF-103 Sluggers/Jolly Rogers (Redesignated VFA-103 with F/A-18F, 1 May 2005)
    • VF-142
      VF-142
      VF-142 Ghostriders was a US Navy fighter squadron established on 24 August 1948 as VF-193. It was renamed VF-142 on 15 October 1963, and disestablished on 30 April 1995.-Late 1940s to the 1970s:...

       Ghostriders (Disestablished 30 April 1995)
    • VF-143 Pukin' Dogs (Redesignated VFA-143
      VFA-143
      Strike Fighter Squadron 143 , also known as the "Pukin Dogs", are a United States Navy strike fighter squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia. The Pukin Dogs are an operational fleet squadron and flying the F/A-18E Super Hornet. They are currently attached to Carrier Air Wing Seven and...

       with F/A-18E in early 2005)
    • VF-211 Fighting Checkmates (Redesignated VFA-211
      VFA-211
      Strike Fighter Squadron 211 , nicknamed the "Fighting Checkmates", is an aviation unit of the United States Navy established in 1945. The squadron is based at Naval Air Station Oceana and is equipped with the F/A-18F Super Hornet....

       with F/A-18F, 1 October 2004)
    • VF-213 Black Lions (Redesignated VFA-213
      VFA-213
      Strike Fighter Squadron 213 Black Lions is an aviation unit of the United States Navy based at Naval Air Station Oceana, Virginia . It was established in 1955 and is currently equipped with the Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet...

       with F/A-18F in May 2006)
  • Test and Evaluation Squadrons
    • VX-4
      VX-4
      VX-4, Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Four, , commonly referred to by its nickname, The Evaluators) was a United States Navy air test and evaluation squadron based at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California...

       Evaluators (Disestablished 30 September 1994 and merged into VX-9
      VX-9
      VX-9. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine, is a United States Navy air test and evaluation squadron based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California...

      )
    • VX-9
      VX-9
      VX-9. Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine, is a United States Navy air test and evaluation squadron based at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake, California...

       Vampires (Currently operates F/A-18C/D/E/F, EA-18G, EA-6B, AV-8B, AH-1 and UH-1)
    • VX-23
      VX-23
      Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 is a United States Navy air test and evaluation squadron based at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland...

       Salty Dogs (Currently operates F/A-18C/D/E/F, EA-6B, EA-18G and T-45)
  • Fleet Replacement Squadrons
    • VF-101
      VF-101
      Fighter Squadron 101, also known as VF-101 and the Grim Reapers, was a United States Navy F-14 Fleet Replacement Squadron based at Naval Air Station Oceana until disestablishment in 2005...

       Grim Reapers (Disestablished 15 September 2005)
    • VF-124
      VF-124
      Fighter Squadron 124 was a fleet replacement squadron of the United States Navy. Known as the Gunfighters, they were active from 1958 through 1994...

       Gunfighters (Disestablished 30 September 1994)
  • Naval Air Reserve Force Squadrons
    • VF-201 Hunters (Redesignated VFA-201
      VFA-201
      The VFA-201, Strike Fighter Squadron was an aviation unit of the United States Naval Reserve based at Naval Air Station Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth, Texas . It was established in 1970 as part of Reserve Carrier Air Wing 20 and disestablished in 2007...

       with F/A-18A 1 January 1999, Disestablished 30 June 2007)
    • VF-202
      VF-202
      The Fighter Squadron VF-202 Superheats was an aviation unit of the United States Naval Reserve based at Naval Air Station Dallas, Texas . It was established in 1970 as part of Reserve Carrier Air Wing 20 and disestablished in 1994...

       Superheats (Disestablished 31 December 1994)
    • VF-301
      VF-301
      VF-301 Fighter Squadron 301 was an aviation unit of the United States Naval Reserve in service from 1970 to 1994. The squadron's nickname was Devil's Disciples.-History:...

       Devil's Disciples (Disestablished 11 September 1994)
    • VF-302
      VF-302
      Fighter Squadron 302 was an aviation unit of the United States Naval Reserve in service from 1971 to 1994. The squadron's nickname was Stallions.-History:...

       Stallions (Disestablished 11 September 1994)
  • Squadron Augmentation Units
    • VF-1285 Fighting Fubijars (Disestablished) augmented VF-301 and VF-302
    • VF-1485 Americans (Disestablished) augmented VF-124
    • VF-1486 Fighting Hobos (Disestablished) augmented VF-101

Aircraft on display



Notable F-14s preserved at museums include:
  • Bureau Number (BuNo) – Model – Location – Significance
  • (R): Signifies an F-14D remanufactured from an F-14A.
  • 157982 YF-14A – Cradle of Aviation Museum
    Cradle of Aviation Museum
    The Cradle of Aviation Museum is an aerospace museum located in East Garden City, New York on Long Island to commemorate Long Island's part in the history of aviation. It is located on land once part of Mitchel Air Force Base which, together with nearby Roosevelt Field and other airfields on the...

    , Garden City, New York. Prototype #3 Nonstructural Demonstration Testbed
  • 157986 F-14A – Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
    Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum
    The Intrepid Sea-Air-Space Museum is a military and maritime history museum with a collection of museum ships in New York City. It is located at Pier 86 at 46th Street on the West Side of Manhattan. The museum showcases the World War II aircraft carrier USS Intrepid, the submarine , a Concorde...

    , Manhattan, New York, 7th Tomcat built, retained as research and development airframe.
  • 159455 F-14A – NAS Patuxent River, Lexington Park, Maryland. Former VX-23 Flight Test Squadron Aircraft
  • 159600 F-14D(R) – OV-10 Bronco Museum, Fort Worth, Texas. On loan from National Museum of Naval Aviation, Pensacola, Florida. "Christine", the longest-serving Tomcat in US Navy, remanufactured F-14 originally built in 1976, made final 2006 cruise.
  • 159610 -F-14D(R) - Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum Udvar-Hazy Center, Chantilly, Virginia.
  • 158623 F-14A - Point Mugu Missile Park, Naval Air Station Point Mugu, California. Former Naval Weapons Test Squadron Point Mugu test vehicle.
  • 159829 F-14A - Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum
    Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum
    The Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum is located on the former grounds of Lowry Air Force Base in Denver, Colorado. The museum, which opened in 1994, is housed in the Hangar #1 built in 1939. The museum preserves the history of Lowry AFB's operations from 1938 to 1994 in its...

    , Denver, Colorado. Former Fleet defense fighter from VF-211 "NG-102"
  • 160661 F-14A – U.S. Space & Rocket Center (Aviation Challenge Camp) in Huntsville, Alabama. It has the "Jolly Rogers" Insignia on left tail.
  • 160889 F-14A – Pacific Coast Air Museum at Charles M. Schulz – Sonoma County Airport, Santa Rosa, California.
  • 160898 F-14A – Palm Springs Air Museum, Palm Springs, California
  • 161598 F-14A – Tulsa Air and Space Museum
    Tulsa Air and Space Museum
    The Tulsa Air and Space Museum is an aerospace museum located in Tulsa, Oklahoma, USA. It is located in the northwest corner of the Tulsa International Airport property. Visitors to the museum can explore of exhibits highlighting Tulsa's aviation history. Historic exhibits, hands-on activities,...

    , Tulsa, Oklahoma. Has squadron VF-41, "Black Aces" markings.
  • 161605 F-14A – Wings Of Eagles Discovery Center/National Warplane Museum, Horseheads, New York
  • 161615 F-14A – Combat Air Museum, Topeka, Kansas
  • 160903 F-14A - Mid America Air Museum, Liberal, Kanssas. From CVN-71 USS Theodore Roosevelt.
  • 161623 F-14A – Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, NAS Patuxent River, Lexington Park, Maryland. Former VX-23 Flight Test Squadron Aircraft
  • 163902 F-14D – Hickory Aviation Museum, Hickory, North Carolina, VF-31 Tomcatters aircraft 107, Flew the retirement ceremony with Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard and Lt. Mike Petronis at the controls.
  • 164346 F-14D – Virginia Aviation Museum, Richmond, Virginia. On loan from National Museum of Naval Aviation
    National Museum of Naval Aviation
    The National Museum of Naval Aviation is a military and aerospace museum located at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida. The museum opened in 1962....

    , Pensacola, Florida. Last Tomcat to operationally trap aboard a US Navy carrier.
  • 164601 F-14D – Castle Air Museum, Atwater, California.
  • 164603 F-14D – Grumman Headquarters, Bethpage, New York. Felix 101 from VF-31 is the last Tomcat to fly in US Navy service. Final flight was from NAS Oceana, Virginia to the American Airpower Museum at Republic Airport Long Island, New York on 4 October 2006 were it was displayed for a year and a half before being moved to Grumman Plant 25.

Specifications (F-14D)



See also


External links