Grumman F-14D Tomcat (USA)

Grumman F-14D Tomcat military fighter jet aircraft at Castle Air Museum, Atwater, also used in the movie Top Gun. 


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United States
Grumman Aircraft Company
All-Weather Interceptor/Fighter
BuNo 164601
2 Crew
2 - General Electric F-110-GE-400 turbofans producing 13,810 lbs. of thrust w/28,000 lbf. with afterburners
1,544 mph (M 2.38)
460.3 mph
53,000 ft.
2,359.1 mi.
Empty: 43,735 lbs.
Maximum: 74,349 lbs.
64 ft. 1.5 in. (unswept); 38 ft.  2.5 in. (swept)
62 ft. 8 in.
16 ft.
565 ft² (swept)
1 - M61A1 20mm cannon; 6 - AIM-7 Sparrow and 2 - AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles or 6 - AIM-54 Phoenix and 2 - AIM-9 Sidewinders or 4 - AIM-54 Phoenix and 2 - AIM-7 Sparrow and 2 - AIM-9 Sidewinders or up to 13,000 lbs. of "smart" bombs or iron bombs
37 D-models
Retired from USN service. The last F-14 mission was February 8, 2006. 79 A-models are still in 'service' with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF).

In the early 1960s, Grumman was working with General Dynamics on the carrier-based version of the TFX, the F-111B. That design had serious problems with weight and size. Even before the Navy rejected the F-111B as unsuitable, Grumman was preparing its in-house design 303 for a carrier fighter to replace the F-4 Phantom. That design became the F-14A, using a variable sweep wing and the same TF-30 engines proposed for the F-111B. The first two F-14 squadrons were formed in 1972 and went to sea for the first time in 1974. The F-14A was considered to be underpowered and the TF-30 engines suffered a number of problems. The most serious was compressor stall at high angles of attack and, unless the pilot reacted very quickly, the aircraft could be lost. The Tomcat was equipped with Hughes AWG-9 fire control radar and was the only aircraft to carry the AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air long range (120 miles) missile.

In 1981, the Navy began testing an F-14A with GE F-101 DFE engines. As a result of this testing a contract was awarded in 1984 for re-engineing of 32 F-14As with F110-GE-400 engines, to be designated F-14A(Plus). The new engines dramatically improved performance and combat range. The increased power also allowed catapult takeoffs without use of the afterburners. 36 new-build F-14A(+) were also ordered. All were later designated as F-14Bs.

The final version of the Tomcat was the F-14D, with a new APG-71 radar, all digital electronics and a dual chin pod that contains both the Television Camera System and Infrared Search and Track (IRST) 37 new-build F-14Ds and 18 conversions from F-14As were delivered. The conversions were designated F-14D(R). The F-14D could carry either a TARPS (Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System) or the LANTIRN (Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night) targeting pod. The LANTIRN pod gave the F-14 precision strike capability. The last F-14D was delivered to the Navy on 20 July 1992.

Grumman F-14D Tomcat military fighter jet afterburners and engines.

The sole foreign customer for the Tomcat was the Imperial Iranian Air Force, during the reign of the last Shah (King) of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi.

In the early 1970s, the Imperial Iranian Air Force (IIAF) was searching for an advanced fighter, specifically one capable of intercepting Soviet MiG-25 "Foxbat" reconnaissance flights. After a visit of U.S. President Richard Nixon 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 50,000 ft (15 km).

Following the overthrow of the Shah 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. 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 aircraft were cannibalized for their spare parts.

In January 2007, it was announced by the US Department of Defense that sales of spare parts for F-14s would be suspended, due to concerns that they could end up in Iran. It announced that the decision was taken "given the current situation in Iran". On 2 July 2007, the remaining American F-14s were being shredded to ensure that F-14 spare parts would not be acquired by governments considered hostile to the US. Iran had an estimated 44 F-14s, with some 20 operational by 2009.

The Tomcat on display was flown to Castle on 20 September 2005, a few days after the squadron it was assigned to (VF-101) was dis-established, It was flown by CDR Paul Haas, the last squadron commander and CDR Anthony DeSmet, the last executive officer. It was delivered to the Navy 17 April 1992 and was one of the last five built. It has a 1970s VF-101 paint scheme, It also served with VF-31 and was deployed with VF-31 on USS Abraham Lincoln and saw combat in Afghanistan and Iraq. The last F-14 squadron (VF-31) will transition to the F/A18 in September 2006, ending a tradition of Grumman Navy fighters that began with the Grumman FF biplane fighter in 1933.