Grumman F-14 Tomcat

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An F-14D Tomcat

The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy's Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program following the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters which were designed incorporating the experience of air combat against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.

The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Enterprise, replacing the McDonnell-Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor and tactical reconnaissance platform. In the 1990s, it added the Block I Strike upgrade and Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system and began performing precision ground-attack missions.

As of 2012, the F-14 is currently used by the Canadian Forces Maritime Command, IRIAF, and United States Navy.

Variants[edit | edit source]

F-14A Tomcat[edit | edit source]

The F-14A Tomcat was designed to replace the F-4 Phantoms as the Navy's main interceptor, Some F-14A was also specially fitted with TARP to replace the RF-8G in 1981. The F-14A Tomcat proved to be a much more superior fighter compare to any fighter in the late 70's. When compared the F-14A has an improvement of 21% of acceleration and sustained G-Force, 20% increase in rate of climb, 27% increase in maneuvering capability and 40% in turning radius. The pilot is seated in a Martin-Baker GRU7A rocket assisted zero/zero ejection seat, under a one-piece canopy.

The F-14A wings are made out of one TI-6A1-4V titanium alloy with a width of 6.71m. The fuselage has machined frames, which consist of titanium main longerons and light alloy skins; the center fuselage is a fuel carrying box. Fuel dump can be found at the extreme end of the aircraft, fins and rudder are made out of light alloy honeycomb sandwich and the tail-planes consist of multiple spars, honeycomb trailing edges and boron/epoxy composite skins.

Electronically the F-14A Tomcat is fitted with an AWG-9 fire control system representing the most capable long-range interceptor today. The AWG-9 is a heft 1,293lb. /28cu ft liquid cooled package with the vital coherent pulse Doppler mode for look down capability, its antenna is a 36-inch flat plate unit; the output power is 10.2 kilowatt. Early Tomcats was fitted with the AN/ALR-32 infrared detection fitted just under the nose. The AN/ALR-32 would proved to be ineffective and later replaced by Northrop AXX-1 TV Camera set (TCS). A TV screen is installed inside the Tomcat and the pilot is able to identify other fighter with the TCS. The F-14A is also fitted with a CP-1066/A Central Air Data Computer (CADC) and a CO-1050/A computer signal data converter; it is used to determine the best angle for the sweep wing by collecting data from the sensors. The F-14A uses the AVA-12 vertical situation display and electronically separated but mechanically integrated HUD along with an AN/ASA-79 multiple display indicator groups. The F-14A also housed the APX-71 IFF transponder, AXX-76 interrogator, ARC-51/159 UHF Radio, KY-58 cryptographic system, APN-154 beacon augmenter, ASN-92 NAV system, APN-194 radar altimeter, ARN 84 TACAB and ARA 50 automatic direction finder. It is also fitted by an ALR-50 SAM warning system and an AN/ALQ-126A deception jammer.

One of the great weakness of the Tomcat is its under power engine. The F-14A is equipped with the ill under powered TF30-P-412 Pratt & Whitney axial flow turbo fan. The engine produces 12,350 lb. of dry thrust and 20,900-lb. afterburn. Merely enough to lift a 70,764lb fully loaded F-14A

Common problem that occurred with the engine involves threaded fan blade, low speed compressor stall especially at high altitude and low speed. To combat this problem P-414 was installed, although it is an improvement compared to the P-412, it still has its own problem at high altitude.

The F-14A is designed to carry Air to Air weapons including the AIM-54, AIM-7E Sparrow, AIM-9 Sidewinder. Although the F-14A was designed to have ground capability, it is only capable of carrying retard bombs. Only later versions of Tomcats can carry other versions of ground ordnance.

80 aircraft were ordered by the Imperial Iranian Air Force, with 79 delivered before the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Due to embargo on parts from the United States, and other economic sanctions, the Iranian Government would sell the entire fleet of F-14A Tomcats to Canada for CAD$1.3 Billion. The United States would subsequently sell the undelivered Iranian F-14 and the undelivered stock of AIM-54 Missiles to the Canadian Forces. The 80 CF-184A Tomcats would be immediately put into service as long-ranged interceptors from CFB Cold Lake and CFB Bagotville.

F-14A+ Tomcat[edit | edit source]

The F-14A+ main upgrade was the engine but also new systems such as Fairchild AN/AWG-15F fire control set, AN/ALR-69, ARC-182 UHF-VHF radio and an improved direct lift system. The problem of dangerous engine flameout was also fixed in this version.

The first F-14A+ first flew on July 14th 1981 at Calverton. It was powered by two General Electric F101 (later renamed as F110) turbofan, providing 16,400 lb. thrust dry and 27,800 lb. afterburner.

With the new engine installed the Tomcats interception radius is increased by 62% and it is possible to have a carrier takeoff without afterburn. Subsequently, the F-14A+ was re-designated as the F-14B. 38 was new built was 32 was upgraded from F-14A. A total of 6 squadron received the F-14A+ (F-14B) from 1988.

The F-14A+ has a larger engine exhaust compare to the F-14A, the A+ model also had its gun door modified and new system such as AN/ARL-67 RWR, fatigue/engine monitoring system and AN/ARC-182 UHF/VHF was installed to the A+.

First Squadron to receive the A+(B) was the VF-74, and up to six squadrons has received the F-14A+/B (most in the Atlantic).

F-14B Tomcat[edit | edit source]

Under powered, Grumman suggested to the Navy that the Tomcat needed a more powerful engine.F-14B Test Plane With two mains engine available, General Electric GE1/10 and Pratt & Whitney JTF22 (later became F401-P-400), it was decided that JTF22 would be fitted to the BuNo 157986 for testing. The JTF22 provided 16,480 lb. thrust dry and 28,090 lb. on afterburners and was believed that it was capable of increasing the Tomcats turning radius by 40%, 21% in sustaining g-capability and 80% greater in radius capability.

With the Vietnam War draining Navy's budget along with production problem with the F401-PW400 turbofan, the plan was abandoned on April 1974. Unfortunately for the Tomcat, they were still stuck with the TF-30. Seven years later, the plane that would be the F-14B test plane would become the F-14A+ and F-14D test plane equipped with the General Electric F101 turbo fan.

It was planned that Grumman would construct 722 F-14Bs at $11.5 million per plane with the first F-14Bs entering service in the mid-1970s.

F-14C Tomcat[edit | edit source]

Seeking to replace the Navy strike fighters, the F-14C was proposed. It is basically the same as the F-14B, except it has ground capability added to it. With the high cost of the Tomcat, the plan was abandoned even before it got to the factory. The navy instead decided to buy more Intruders and start the VFAX program.

F-14D Tomcat[edit | edit source]

F-14D Super Tomcat[edit | edit source]

An F-14D Tomcat of the USN in flight.

Unlike the F-14A+, the F-14D was designed to have digital avionics. The F-14D first flew on 9th February 1990 from Grumman's Claverton plant. Powered by the same engine as the F-14A+, the D version included the new Hughes APG-71 (similar to the Eagles APG-70), AN/ALR-67 Radar Warning Receiver, AB/ALQ-165 airborne self-protection jammer, ASN-130 digital navigational system, ASN-139 laser inertial navigation system and a dual AKY-14 standard airborne computer which connected all avionics digitally.

The APG-71 is one of the most advanced radar around. Its 10.5kW output gives it's a search range of 370km. It also allows Tomcat to link up with other various aircraft through JTIDS (Joint Tactical Information Distribution Systems). The APG-71 also process information faster than the AWG-9. The radar is also capable of ground mapping.

The pilots now have the new Martin Baker NACES ejection system along with 2 new HUDs providing multi function display. In the backseat, the analog instrument is replaced by a multi function display. Fitted in the F-14 is the ALQ-165 Electronic counter measures, one of the most advance jammer available to US fighters.

Externally, the F-14D has a dual pod under its nose that house both the Television Camera system and the IRST (Infrared search and Track system). The IRST allows the pilot to identify targets up to 190km away.

Unlike all previous F-14 versions, the F-14D tomcat is capable of carrying wide range of ground ordnance including LANTIRN and in the near future the JDAM, and it is also planned to carry HARM and AMRAAM. One feature of the F-14D tomcat with previous versions is that it is capable of carry TARP without needing special wiring.

Like the F-15 family, the plan was to upgrade all F-14 capable of having ground capability, it would first involve upgrading the Tomcat into F-14D standard (digital avionics, F110 engines) then AN/ALE-50 towed decoy, a navigation FLIR and night vision cockpit would be added. And at the final stage, software mode from the F-15E APG-71 would be added which is capable of "Doppler bean sharpening, synthetic aperture, sea surface search and terrain following mode.

CF-184B Super Tomcat[edit | edit source]

Soon after the purchase of the Tomcats, complaints from Canadian Forces personnel about the TF30 engines and ludicrous maintenance requirements reached the ears of Bombardier and plans were made to reduce some inefficiencies of the original design.

With the orders to re-engine the CF-184A Tomcats after a tragic crash in 1990, Bombardier took the opportunity to do more than just a simple engine refit, and told the shocked military brass of their ambitious plans. Each air-frame was carefully opened up, and engineers worked frantically to rebuild the planes' systems. The wiring and control systems were simplified as much as possible, with the flight controls now connected to an improved fly-by-wire computer made by ATI Technologies. A number of never-used components were deleted altogether, reducing weight and maintenance requirements. The hydraulic systems of the wings were slightly simplified, and the avionics of the F-14D Super Tomcat were installed. As a result, the military was not fully prepared for the first plane to complete the refit in July.

The Bombardier CF-184B (Often shortened to CF-14B) Super Tomcat, which also included the replacement of the hated TF30 turbofans with GE F110s, shocked everyone by needing only 10-15 maintenance manhours per flight hour (as opposed to 15 to 25 hours needed with American F-14s), and a slight decrease in total weight, improving the manoeuvrability of the Canadian aircraft by 5 percent over its American F-14D counterparts. While there were still some grumbles about the added costs to the refits, in a stroke of fate, Saudi Arabia had donated 2.1 billion dollars to Ottawa for its help in Operation Desert Storm; some of the money was used to pay for the upgrades, which surprisingly cost less than what American Taxpayer had to pay for the US Navy's F-14 refits.

F-14E/CF-184C Supercat[edit | edit source]

A 3D image of the F-14E/CF-184C.

In 1994, Grumman, with some assistance from Bombardier, proposed the Super Tomcat 21, an advanced derivative of the Tomcat design. However, the USN while quite enthusiastic about the Super Tomcat 21 after the cancellation of the NATF and later A/FX, was shot down by the Department of Defense. The Canadian Air Force (as well as the Fleet Air Arm), however, were very enthusiastic and asked Grumman and Bombardier to deliver on the proposal.

The plans took nearly a decade to complete, as Bombardier executives decided to make a gamble and establish its credentials in the fighter jet business. Bombardier and Grumman took the notoriously high-maintenance, complex Tomcat design and completely reworked everything. Engineers planned to have the complex hydraulic variable wing mechanisms be replaced with high efficiency electric motors and servos. Newly developed touch screen technology was also implemented in the cockpits, and a new Canadian variant of the APG-71 radar was installed. In addition, many 21st century electronics were added in later in the development, meaning that the design kept changing.

In 2004, the new CF-184C "Supercat" finally debuted. The new variant had numerous improvement to the airframe itself. Reshaped wing gloves, thicker wings, fowler flaps, reshaped leading edges and forward wing extensions were implemented to give greater range and better performance at speed. The planes were refitted with improved F110-GE-429D engines that had brand new two-dimensional thrust vectoring to improve maneuverability.

The cockpit now had a Single-piece windshield for better visibility. RIM produced new helmet-mounted displays, replacing the older style HUDs. New radar modes were added for terrain following, forward air control, moving target indication, sea search and synthetic aperture radar reconnaissance. The Supercat also had a full night-vision cockpit including FLIR systems and infrared tracking, improved databus and electronic components with liquid cooling, additional hardpoints for extra carrying capacity, a reshaped tail for less drag, a towed decoy, and even a new missile launch warning system.

In short, the Supercat became a world beater, a 4.5th+ Generation fighter aircraft that in exercises even defeated USAF F-15C and Indian Su-30MKI jets. It's thrust vectoring meant it was the most maneuverable carrier aircraft of the time, with Canadian Supercats even managing to outfly smaller F/A-18E/Fs and F-16C/Ds with ease. The US Navy had in fact ordered their own units as the F-14E Super Tomcat, built by Grumman but with many Canadian parts.

Users[edit | edit source]

  • Canada
  • Germany
  • Iran
    • Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (1977-1980, 2008-Present)
      • 62nd Tactial Fighter Squadron
      • 72nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
      • 73rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
      • 81st Tactical Fighter Squadron
      • 82nd Tactical Fighter Squadron
      • 83rd Tactical Fighter Squadron
      • Tomcat Flight School
  • Japan
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
    • United States Navy (1973-Present)
      • VF-1 "Wolfpack"
      • VF-2 "Bounty Hunters"
      • VF-8 "Hellcats"
      • VF-11 "Red Rippers"
      • VF-12 "Ubangis"
      • VF-14 "Tophatters"
      • VF-21 "Freelancers"
      • VF-24 "Fighting Renegades"
      • VF-31 "Tomcatters"
      • VF-32 "Swordsmen"
      • VF-33 "Starfighters"
      • VF-41 "Black Aces"
      • VF-43 "Challengers"
      • VF-51 "Screaming Eagles"
      • VF-74 "Bedivilers"
      • VF-84 "Jolly Rogers"
      • VF-92 "Silver Kings"
      • VF-96 "Fighting Falcons"
      • VF-101 "Grim Reapers"
      • VF-102 "Diamondbacks"
      • VF-103 "Sluggers"
      • VF-111 "Sundowners"
      • VF-114 "Aardvarks"
      • VF-121 "Pacemakers"
      • VF-124 "Gunfighters"
      • VF-126 "Bandits"
      • VF-142 "Ghostriders"
      • VF-143 "Pukin' Dogs"
      • VF-154 "Black Knights"
      • VF-162 "Zodiacs"
      • VF-171 "Aces"
      • VF-191 "Satan's Kittens"
      • VF-194 "Red Lightning"
      • VF-201 "Hunters"
      • VF-202 "Superheats"
      • VF-211 "Fighting Checkmates"
      • VF-213 "Black Lions"
      • VF-301 "Devil's Disciples"
      • VF-302 "Stallions"
      • VF-1285 "Fighting Fubijars"
      • VF-1485 "Americans"
      • VF-1486 "Fighting Hobos"
      • VX-4 "Evaluators"
      • VX-6 "Ice Pirates"
      • VX-9 "Vampires"
      • VX-23 "Salty Dogs"
      • VX-30 "Bloodhounds"
      • Navy Fighter Weapons School

Ordnance[edit | edit source]

  • AtA Missiles: AIM-7R Sparrow, AIM-9X Sidewinder, AIM-54D Pheonix, AIM-120D AMRAAM
  • AtG Missiles: AGM-53 Condor, AGM-65 Maverick, AGM-84 Harpoon, AGM-84E SLAM, AGM-88 HARM, AGM-119 Penguin, AGM-154 JSOW, AGM-158 JASSM, AGM-158C LRASM, Taurus KEPD 350
  • Bombs: Mk.80 series iron bombs, Paveway Series laser guided bombs, JDAM GPS-guided bombs, GBU-15 Glide Bomb, GBU-28 "Bunker Buster" bomb, GBU-31/-32/-35/-38 laser-guided bombs, GBU-35 Icefire thermobaric bomb, GBU-39 and GBU-53 Small Diameter Bomb, CBU-99 and CBU-100 Rockeye, CBU-107 Passive Attack Weapon,

See Also[edit | edit source]