The legendary F-14 Tomcat fighter still contains many curious things for the media even though it is very old.
During three decades of service in the US Navy, the legendary F-14 Tomcat has lived up to the role it was designed for, drawing on the experience Washington gained in the Vietnam war.
The F-14 Tomcat also became the first of a series of American “Teen Series” fighters including the F-15 Eagle, F-16 Fighting Falcon, and F/A-18 Hornet.
Incredibly, the F-14 was almost never planned for production. In fact, the two-seat multirole carrier-based fighter was only developed after the US Congress discontinued the F-111B project along with the Test Fighter Aircraft (TFX) program.
The goal of that TFX program was to provide both the Air Force and Navy with a line of fighter aircraft tailored to their respective needs, but the project was opposed by the Navy.
Instead, officials issued a new request for proposal (RFP) for the Naval Fighter Test program (VFX), which required a two-seat, twin-engine interceptor. Grumman was awarded the contract in January 1969.
The Grumman is part of a series of fighters named “cats”, which includes the F-4F Wildcat, F-6F Hellcat, F-7F Tigercat, and F-8F Bearcat – but the F-14 Tomcat is a whole different story.
It was named in honor of U.S. Navy Admiral Thomas “Tomcat” Connelly, who called on Congress to support the Navy’s effort to develop an aircraft carrier fighter.
The F-14 is the largest and heaviest American fighter ever to take off from an aircraft carrier, it is also the sole launch pad for the AIMG-54 Phoenix missile and it can carry 6 missiles weighing 450 kg at the same time.
Thanks to the most powerful radar at the time, the Tomcat could track up to 24 targets. Furthermore, it is a versatile platform and serves as the Navy’s air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and air reconnaissance platform.
The F-14 is notable for its shape-shifting wings (also known as flapping wings) to optimize maneuvering at different speed ranges. To save space on an aircraft carrier, the wings of the F-14 can be folded up to 75 degrees.
The F-14 might not be as famous as it is now without actor Tom Cruise, but the plane became a de facto movie star thanks to the 1986 film Top Gun, which depicts a Tomcat takeoff and landing scene. from the USS Enterprise (CVN-65).
However, two of the planes were first seen in the 1980 film The Final Countdown, while the F-14 last appeared in the second installment of the blockbuster Topgun: Maverick.
One of the Tomcats featured in the Top Gun movie is now painted with the VF-84 “Jolly Roger” inscription and is on display aboard the Essex-class aircraft carrier USS Lexington (CV-16), preserved as a Floating museum ship at Corpus Christi, Texas.
The F-14 Tomcat enjoyed a, albeit brief, a career as a bomber – or “Bombcat” – when the fighter was upgraded with the ability to drop laser-guided bombs.
Although the F-14 Tomcat was retired by the US Navy in 2006, the few aircraft purchased by the Imperial Iranian Air Force in the 1970s are still in service after more than four decades, which is a surprise. great for its durability.