THE GRUMMAN F-14 TOMCAT. A Comprehensive Guide.
Immortalised by the film ‘Top Gun’, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat was an iconic American supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. Developed for the US Navy after the collapse of the F-111B project, it was designed to incorporate the air combat experience gained against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War. The F-14 first flew on 21 December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974, replacing the F-4 Phantom. The F-14 served as the Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defence interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform into the 1990s. The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system were added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions as the ‘Bombcat’ The F-14 was equipped with an internal 20mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon mounted on the left side, and could carry the AIM-54 Phoenix ‘fire and forget’ missile as well as the, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-9 Sidewinder. Operationally, the capability to hold up to six Phoenix missiles was never used, as there was never a threat requirement to engage six hostile targets simultaneously and the load was too heavy to safely recover aboard an aircraft carrier in the event that the missiles were not fired. 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 20mm ammunition and two drop tanks. The Phoenix missile was used twice in combat over Iraq in 1999, but the missiles did not score any kills. The Tomcat was also sold to Iran, who made use of the Phoenix system, claiming dozens of kills with it during the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War. This revised and updated Datafile one not to be missed!