F -14 Tomcat


Wing span: 64 feet unswept; 38 feet swept
Length: 62 feet 7 inches
Height: 16 feet
Weight: Empty: 40,104 pounds
Maximum take-off: 74,348 pounds
Speed: Maximum: 1,544 mph
Cruise: 576 mph
Ceiling: More than 56,000 feet
Power plant: Two Pratt and Whitney TF-30-P412A turbofan engines with
afterburners; F-14B and F-14D: F-110-GE-400 augmented turbofan engines
with afterburner
Crew: two
Contractor: Grumman Aerospace
F-14 Tomcat, sleek, powerful, deadly, and the real star of the movie Top
Gun. The F-14 Tomcat followed a history of "Cats" in the military. The F-4F
Wildcat and the F-6F Hellcat that fought in the skies years before the
Tomcat ever bit the air. In the late 1960\'s, the U.S Navy decided to decided
to focus on an aircraft dedicated to fleet defense. Grumman had already
begun developing the F-14, and was definitely headed for a "Cat"
designation. The person responsible for this project was Admiral Tom
Conolly, Deputy Chief, Naval Operations for Air. The aircraft was dubbed
"Tom\'s Cat" long before the official name of "Tomcat" was ever adopted.
(novia.net, 1999)
Overall, the Navy\'s Grumman F-14 Tomcat is without equal among
today\'s Free World fighters. Six long-range AIM-54A Phoenix missiles can be
guided against six separate threat aircraft at long range by the F-14\'s AWG-9
weapons control system. For medium-range combat, Sparrow missiles are
carried; Sidewinders and a 20mm are available for dogfighting. In the latter
role, the Tomcat\'s variable-sweep wings give the F-14 a combat maneuvering
capability that could not have been achieved with a "standard" fixed
planform wing. (history.navy, 1999)
In full forward-sweep position,the wings provided the lift needed for
slow-speed flight, especially needed during carrier landings. In swept-back
positions, the wings blend into the aircraft, giving the F-14 Tomcat a
dart-like silhouette for high-speed, super-sonic flight (using Pratt & Whitney
TF30-P-412A Turbofans). (novia.net. 1999)
By 1972, the first of the F-14 Tomcat\'s off the production line were
sent to the US . In October of 1972, two squadrons were formed with the
F-14 Tomcat to begin flight operations. (novia.net, 1999) All in all,
fourteen aircraft were used for the development program. The fully
proven F-14 was introduced to the fleet only 51 month after contract
award! (Anft, 1998)
The F-14 Tomcat was designed to carry a million dollar missile, the
Phoenix . The AIM-54 Phoenix has a range of over 100 miles and sole
purpose was to destroy Soviet bombers. The F-14 Tomcat program came
down to a test at the Naval Missile Test Center at Point Mugu, CA in
November, 1973. The Pentagon wanted an aircraft that could take on six
different targets at once, and on that day in November, the Tomcat
demonstrated that ability. Six AIM-54 Phoenix missiles were launched at
6 different drone targets at the test range. Only one of the six missiles
failed to hit its target. The Pentagon was sold, and the F-14 Tomcat
program was in full swing. In 1974, the two squadrons, the VF-1
Wolfpack and the VF-2 Bounty Hunters, were deployed and assigned to
the USS Enterprise (novia.net, 1999)
The Tomcat was in service just in time to see the closing stages of the
Vietnam war in 1975. It flew top cover during Operation Frequent Wind,
the evacuation of US personnel from Saigon in April of 1975 just before
that city fell to the North. The North Vietnamese air force did not
interfere with the operation, but one Tomcat was slightly damaged by
antiaircraft fire. On August 19, two Libyan Su 22 Fitter- J fighters were
shot down by a pair of VF-41 Tomcats after one the Fitters fired a
missile at the American fighters. Both kills were with AIM-9L Sidewinder
missiles. This was the first air battle between variable-geometry fighters.
During Operation Desert Storm of January 1991, Tomcats flew mostly
top cover operations in protection of the fleet\'s carriers and in the escort
of strike packages, and did not participate in very much air-to-air
combat. The Tomcats are credited with only one kill, which came on
February 6 when a pair of F-14s of VF-1 shot down a Mil Mi-8 Hip
helicopter with AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. (encarta)
In addition to its outstanding fighter capabilities, the Tomcat is now
being configured as a potent, adverse weather, medium-range strike
aircraft that is being fielded through cost-effective upgrades to F-14A/Bs.
With the ability to launch Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAM), coupled
with an INS/GPS integration and off-the-shelf electronic countermeasure
improvements, the Tomcat will provide a multi-mission strike/escort
capability which will be part of the inventory until at least 2010.
(history.navy, 1999)


Anft, T (1998,November) F-14 Tomcat.

Barrett, J (1989) F-14 Tomcat. Encarta Encyclopedia. Microsoft Corp.

Marshall, C (1989) The Worlds Great Interceptor Aircraft.