F-14 Tomcat

TypeInterceptor, air superiority and multirole combat aircraft
Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerGrumman
First flight21 December 1970
IntroducedSeptember 1974
Produced1970
Numbers built712 units
Unit costsUSD 38 million (in 1998)
Max speedMach 2.34 (1,544 mph, 2,485 km/h) at high altitude
Max rangeCombat radius: 500 nmi (575 mi, 926 km)
Ferry range: 1,600 nmi (1,840 mi, 2,960 km)
DimensionsLength: 62 ft 9 in (19.1 m)

Wingspan:
Spread: 64 ft (19.55 m)
Swept: 38 ft (11.58 m)

Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
WeightEmpty weight: 43,735 lb (19,838 kg)
Loaded weight: 61,000 lb (27,700 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 74,350 lb (33,720 kg)
Powerplant2 × General Electric F110-GE-400 afterburning turbofans
Dry thrust: 13,810 lbf (61.4 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 27,800 lbf (123.7 kN) each
Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon, with 675 rounds

Hardpoints: 10 total: 6× under-fuselage, 2× under nacelles and 2× on wing gloves[86][N 2] with a capacity of 14,500 lb (6,600 kg) of ordnance and fuel tanks[35]

Missiles:
Air-to-air missiles: AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder
Loading configurations:
2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-54 (Rarely used due to weight stress on airframe)
2× AIM-9 + 2× AIM-54 + 3× AIM-7 (Most common load during Cold War era)
2× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54 + 2× AIM-7
2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-7
4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54
4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-7

Bombs:
JDAM Precision-guided munition (PGMs)
Paveway series of Laser guided bombs
Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs
Mk 20 Rockeye II

Others:
Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS)
LANTIRN targeting pod
2× 267 USgal (1,010 l; 222 imp gal) drop tanks for extended range/loitering time

ArmamentGuns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61 Vulcan 6-barreled gatling cannon, with 675 rounds

Hardpoints: 10 total: 6× under-fuselage, 2× under nacelles and 2× on wing gloves[86][N 2] with a capacity of 14,500 lb (6,600 kg) of ordnance and fuel tanks[35]

Missiles:
Air-to-air missiles: AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder
Loading configurations:
2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-54 (Rarely used due to weight stress on airframe)
2× AIM-9 + 2× AIM-54 + 3× AIM-7 (Most common load during Cold War era)
2× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54 + 2× AIM-7
2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-7
4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54
4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-7

Bombs:
JDAM Precision-guided munition (PGMs)
Paveway series of Laser guided bombs
Mk 80 series of unguided iron bombs
Mk 20 Rockeye II

Others:
Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS)
LANTIRN targeting pod
2× 267 USgal (1,010 l; 222 imp gal) drop tanks for extended range/loitering time
OperatorsIran, United States (former operator)

One of the famous U.S. jet fighter is the Grumman F-14 Tomcat as the aircraft was used in a Tom Cruise’s famous movie the Top Gun in 1986. The F-14 Tomcat used variable-swept wing as it was a carrier-capable jet fighter. This twin-engine, supersonic and two-seat jet fighter was derived for the United States Navy who launched a program called Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) in 1968. The F-14 was born from the aerial combat experience against the Soviet Union’s MiGs throughout the Vietnam War.

Besides the U.S. Navy as the main operator of the F-14, the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) has been operating this powerful fighter and interceptor since mid 1970s as of today.

Design and development history

In late 1950s, the U.S. Navy realized that Soviet Union’s jet bombers and submarines which could launch long-range anti-ship missiles were a clear threat for the U.S. Navy’s fleet. To counter such threat, the U.S. Navy needed a high-endurance interceptor for defending its battle carrier fleet and the required aircraft was apparently had to be able to take long-range missions. The wanted Fleet Air Defense aircraft should have powerful radar and longer range missiles than what the F-4 Phantom II had to take out any incoming bombers and missiles.

To answer the U.S. Navy’s call, several aircraft manufacturers proposed their fighter concepts and finally in 1966 the U.S. Navy awarded the project to Grumman. Learning from the F-111B program, Grumman started developing advanced fighter design. As a result, on 21 December 1970, the F-14 Tomcat took its maiden flight.

The F-14 is manned by two personnel: pilot and RIO (radar intercept officer) and they sit in tandem in the cockpit. The two-seat cockpit uses a bubble canopy allowing the personnel to have all-round visibility. The F-14 applies variable geometry wings that automatically swing during flight. The wings will be swept back for high-speed intercept and swing forward at lower speed flight.

Equipped with an internal 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling-type gun mounted on the left side and some missiles such as AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-9 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles, apparently the F-14 meets the basic requirements of supersonic fighter and long-range interceptor.

The variants of the Tomcat

Following are some variants of the F-14 Tomcat:

  • F-14A – The F-14A was the initial two-seat all-weather interceptor fighter variant for the US Navy.
  •   F-14B – An upgraded F-14A with more powerful engine the GE F110-400 and more sophisticated ALR-67 Radar Homing and Warning system.
  •  F-14D Super Tomcat – This variant uses two GE F110-400 engines and newer digital avionics such as 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 (IRST).

F-14 Tomcat videos

Farewell to the F-14 Tomcat

The last F-14 Tomcat demo

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