Photo: Wikimedia Commons
The F-14 Tomcat may be the most pined for military aircraft of a generation. When talking to senior Navy officers we’ve heard more than once how some admiral is always going on about how much they miss flying the F-14.
They say the F-18 just doesn’t compare; the newer Hornet lacks the ’14’s power, manoeuvrability and apparently it’s simply a whole lot less fun to fly. One officer laughed and told us her admiral goes on about the “F-14 days, like a little girl.”
It’s nothing new; those first couple thousand flight hours in a fighter likely fail to ever compare with anything else. Perhaps they can’t, because the generation before the Tomcat, who flew the F-8 say, the exact same thing about “their” jet.
Its tell-tale folding wings could sweep back and forth between 68 degrees and 20 depending on required air speed.
The Tomcat could carry nearly 15,000 lbs of ordnance, ranging from air-to-air to cruise missile intercept warheads.
The Tomcat's spaceship-like Heads Up Display (HUD) featured a 'MOS-based LSI chipset,' which is geek-speak for microprocessor, in fact, the world's first microprocessor.
The F-14 also included two 'Martin-Baker GRU-7A rocket-propelled ejection seats,' the same one's that 'malfunctioned' when Goose died in Top Gun.
The Tomcat's first kills occurred over Libya in 1981, the Gulf Of Sidra incident, in which it toasted two Libyan fighters.
In the meantime, Iran had their own fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcats ... sold in a time of better relations.
Yet it also suffered a loss when a surface to air missile knocked one down of Al Asad Air base in Iraq.
Unlike 'Top Gun,' the ejection seats did what they were supposed to do, and both pilot and co-pilot survived.
Because of the truly sick payload an F-14 could carry, including ground targeting systems, it saw close air support service in Operation Enduring Freedom.
By February 2002, it had already hit a target using a Joint Direct Attack Munition, or JDAM; a guided bomb.
Forward Air Controllers on the ground could tap into the Tomcat's surveillance technology, seeing real time maps from in the sky, and helping them guide munitions in on target.
That was the first time in combat history pilot and ground asset shared imagery to enhance an assault.
The problem was that the F-14 was the most expensive fighter to maintain for its weight; and the newer F-18s were forcing it out.
And was always a constant reminder to anyone who crosses the line in the sand, that they're entering the 'Danger Zone.'
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