The F-14

Air Show, Military, F-14, Tomcat, Jet

The United States Navy has Officially retired the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. I found that while watching a TV news station in Los Angeles. The service took place at Miramar which is located close to San Diego. Many Americans equate the F14 into the film,”Top Gun”. When you mention to someone you spent a long time in the Navy working on F14’s, they generally say something about the film. It is always interesting to speak to somebody who does not know this up close and personal. I never flew the plane, but I understood how keep it fight ready for the fleet. At that moment, the USS Forrestal was at sea in the Mediterranean, so this required a trip to the boat while at sea. Thus, when I overhear someone talking about the F-14 Tomcat in Naval Aviation, I take some private understanding.

My initial experience with the aircraft was in 1977. At the moment, I was a 19 year old sailor from St. Louis and I’d just seen a few still pictures of it in magazines before my arrival at NAS Miramar, California. The F-14’s were replacing the old Navy F-4 Phantoms in 1977 and the Tomcats seemed to be something from a science fiction book. At the moment, I’d tribulations on figuring out how to master its sophistication. My specialization was at the AN/AWG-9 Radar that was the most effective airborne radar mounted into a supersonic fighter. The radar was exceptional in its main function to shoot down little low flying high speed cruise missiles skimming the ocean surface and also MIG 25’s flying at MACH 3 up at 80,000 feet. After spending nearly two years in Navy technical colleges, I was deemed worthy to work on the intricate F-14 radar system. At the moment, the aircraft proved to be a truly revolutionary upgrade to Naval Aviation. Even to this day, a number of its unique capabilities are still unmatched.

He spent years as an aggressor pilot instructing pilots dog fighting abilities. Being the sole Navy man in the household, I get a great deal of ribbing when I talk of this F-14 as being the true top gun. When they say the F15 and F16 are better in close in combat, I say it depends upon the pilot as much as the machine. But more importantly, if your job is to take off and destroy an enemy aircraft, you are not going to fight a good fight. You are going to use whatever benefit you need to kill him before he kills you.

The F-14 can out gun others by using its superior radar, so the Navy has eyes on goal first. The F-14 could detect an aerial treat at much longer range than any other aerial fighter. The F-14D Tomcat could also fly at supersonic speed without light up it is afterburner for supersonic cruise. And the Navy can take using their long range AIM-54 Phoenix missiles. The USAF currently utilizes the new AIM-120 AMRAAM missile that’s an outstanding air to air missile, but it’s less than half the assortment of the AIM-54. This implies the Navy fighter pilot can take his missiles at longer range and still succeed. When the missile gets within close reach of the goal, it uses its active onboard radar to maneuver to final effects. Throughout live firing missile exercises, the kill rate of this AIM-54 exceeded 90 percent that’s outstanding. The AIM-120 uses this exact same idea and this technology has been carried over from our experience with the AIM-54. The F-14 Tomcat is the only fighter to use the extended range AIM-54.

The sole AIM-54 ever used in battle was by the IAF (Iranian Air Force) which bought 100 F-14 Tomcats from the mid 70’s. Iranian airspace has been violated by large flying MIG 25’s flying at Mach 3. Because of this, Iran chose the F-14 Tomcat to safeguard their airspace. After their F-14 aircraft downed an unmanned high rate Russian Dot aircraft, the flights over from Russia stopped. Throughout the Iraq / Iran war, they effectively utilized their AIM-54 missiles to destroy their opposing force. Unofficial kills with their limited number of missiles go as large as 40. We’ll probably never know the specific amount, but Iran continues to fly their Tomcats.

It is among the most realistic combat simulations anywhere on earth. Air Forces all over the world come to such exercises to hone their battle skills. On a single deployment, I was told that the navy F-14 crews weren’t permitted to use their aerial radar beyond the battle area because this could give them an edge. Typically, 1 F-14 would sweep a section of the sky to search for enemy targets. This aircraft could share its information with other patrolling F-14’s without turning on their radars. This discrete information sharing will keep the enemy guessing as to their true location. This tactic wouldn’t give away their location as it was not required to turn on their unique radars.

As far as one on one battle involving fighter USAF and USN pilots, I can not speak for them. He said first you should have excellent eyesight since the very first to detect another at long range has the advantage in battle. However, he also said that he was a fantastic pilot since he had a good deal of flying experience. I deployed to the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Enterprise in 1977 and spent the next four decades and three months ahead. The 1 thing that really amazed me was how aircraft could land at night on a slick flight deck which was pitching up and down and from side to side. I am not saying Navy pilots are better, but they’re quite experienced and good at what they do. If I had a few MIG fighters inbound with hostile intent, I’d feel really comfortable understanding among our F-14’s was patrolling over the horizon. I took a photo of an F-14 cockpit that had five red stars painting onto it from squadron VF-2. I slept at ease on the boat knowing we’d experienced crews protecting our aircraft carrier at sea.

The majority of the tomcats were confined to remain over water close to the carriers for air cover. When the Iraqi Air Force chose to fly all their remaining fighters to Iran, the coalition Air Forces had nothing in place that could shoot them down. Because of this, the Iranian Air Force currently has an additional 50 to 100 fighters. Iran fought a long hard war with Iraq and I doubt if they ever have them fly back after the war stopped. It would have been a gorgeous sight to see dozens of AIM-54’s from the skies shrieking in their goals at Mach 4 because they attempted to escape to Iran.

This plane will dominate the airspace of any enemy. Its full capabilities continue to be somewhat classified, but it’s a really revolutionary fighter for the 21st Century. I’ve not seen it fly, but I’ll attend the open house at Edwards AFB this weekend and see the aerial flight demo of this F/A-22. The Tomcat supplied the United States Navy with a proud history. I am convinced the F/A-22 will do the same for the USAF in another 30.

To summarize, I did not write this guide to stir any animosity between the USAF and USN fighter community. I have the utmost respect for those women and men who serve our country, particularly in the tricky war we are faced with today. God bless them and may they all come home safely when their tours of duty have been finished.

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