There Isn't A Fighter Pilot Alive That Doesn't Wish They Still Flew The F-14 Tomcat

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; ┬áthose 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.

The F-14 was the first in the America's series of 'Teen Fighters.'

The Tomcat was developed to challenge decades of competition with Russia's MiGs.

It was a supersonic, twin engine, duel seated beast of the skies.

Its tell-tale folding wings could sweep back and forth between 68 degrees and 20 depending on required air speed.

The Navy first acquired the F-14 for long range intercept and air superiority missions.

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.

The Tomcat again engaged Libya in 1989, dropping another two enemy aircraft.

In the meantime, Iran had their own fleet of American-made F-14 Tomcats ... sold in a time of better relations.

So while Americans flew regular sorties over Libya for surveillance purposes ...

Iranians also had their birds patrolling the skies.

The next time the Tomcat saw action was during the first Gulf War.

But it took a back seat to its younger, more agile brother, the F-15 Eagle.

Nonetheless it scored a kill on an Iraqi helicopter.

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.

The next piece of meat the Tomcat got a piece of was Afghanistan.

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.

It took off on the some of the first missions, dating back to October 2001.

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 last combat mission for the F-14 Tomcat was over Iraq, 2006, when it bombed a target.

It was retired a short six months later, at Naval Air Station Oceana.

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.

Nonetheless the F-14 Tomcat is perhaps the most iconic of American fighters.

And was always a constant reminder to anyone who crosses the line in the sand, that they're entering the 'Danger Zone.'

You've seen the most iconic fighter jet in U.S. history ...

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