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F-14 Tomcat

F-14 Tomcat The F-14 served the United States Navy from 1972 as the primary air superiority fighter, a reconnaissance platform, and (after modifications in 1990) performed precision strike missions. The F-14 had a unique characteristic; it had a variable geometry wing (-its wings could change positions during flight), which made the aircraft perform well in both high and low speeds. It was developed by Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, which later merged with Northrop to form Northrop Grumman. The only operators of the F-14 were U.S.A. and Iran.

F-14 Tomcat The F-14 was built for the sole purpose of defending the U.S. Navy’s fleet from Soviet Bombers. Before it was made, in the early 1960s, the Navy invested much of its funds on an ambitious plan (the TFX-Tactical Fighter Experimental) to manufacture an airplane that will meet the requirements of both U.S.A.F. and U.S. Navy- the F-111Aardvark. Sadly, the F-111 met development problems, and several of its intended roles were dropped- including naval interception. Without new aircraft to replace its F-4 Phantom IIs, the navy had no other option but to turn to another program- the VFAX- Naval Fighter Attack Experimental, which brought the F-14 in 1974. The F-14 was expensive and also very complicated and hard to maintain, but after wasting too much money on the F-111 the Navy could not afford another project. Moreover, its aircraft had to be swapped urgently- the F-14 was the only option. The navy was actually “stuck” with the F-14!

The F-14 has a twin tail and two engines, and while its wings are swept back it can be easily mistaken for the F-15 Eagle.

F-14 Tomcat The F-14 could track up to 24 targets at the same time, and thanks to the Navy's Aim-54 Phoenix missiles, it could also scan and fire towards six of them simultaniously, at a range of around 100km (60 miles). However, it was never equipped with six (Phoenix) missiles because there was never a need to do so (and because adding their extra mass would not enable the F-14 to take off from an aircraft carrier!). Moreover, the F-14’s variable geometry wing offers high-speed interceptions when its wings are swept back, and sharp turns when its wings are shifted forward, however, the added mass and complexity required to design a plane with a variable-sweep wing somewhat offset the benefits. As a result, variable-sweep wings have not seen widespread adoption.

The F-14’s first kill was made by the U.S. Navy during the Gulf War in 19 August 1981, in the Gulf of Sidra incident, when two Navy F-14s intercepted and downed two Libyan Su-22 "Fitters".

F-14 Tomcat Since 1994, the United States gradually replaced the F-14s with the lighter and cheaper F/A-18 Hornets, until 8 February 2006, when the F-14 was completely retied (sooner than anticipated). Today, the only F-14 operator left is Iran, which still uses the airplanes received from the U.S. in 1978 (during the reign of the last Shah (King) of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, who maintained good relations with the U.S.). In July 2007, to prevent F-14 parts from reaching the hands of hostile Iran, many of the remaining F-14s in USA were utterly shredded.

The F-14 was made as a last resolve and proved to be expensive and overly complicated, it didn’t earn any fame for remarkable achievements, abilities or efficiency, it was not used to full potential (it was never operationally equipped with six missiles, and instead of upgrading it, it was replaced), retired before its estimated leaving time, most of the airplanes which were not repositioned in storage were destroyed, and worst of all, it ended up serving (only) a hostile nation. It won’t be an exaggeration to say it was a failure.