Before stealth and more sophisticated aircraft technology now present in the 21st century, there was the F-14 Tomcat. This beauty was a replacement for the popular F-4 Phantom fighter and entered service with the US Navy in 1972. Since then, it performed continuous operations on U.S. aircraft carriers up to 2006. The F-14 played significant roles during this time in battles and wars throughout its existence.
The plane is a supersonic, twin engine, variable sweep wing, two seater aircraft, designed to attack enemy aircraft 24×7, in all weather conditions.
The F-14 has the tracking capability to monitor up to 24 targets at once. Armament includes a General Electric Vulcan M61A-1 20mm, electrically fired Gatling-style rotary machine gun, which fires 20 mm rounds at a rate of 6,000 per minute. The gun is mounted in the forward section of the fuselage, on its port side. Additionally, it can carry AIM-9, AIM-7 and AIM-54 missiles, air-to-ground Rockeye bombs, CBU cluster bombs, the Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow radar-guided air-to-air missile, Lockheed Martin / Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the Raytheon AIM-54 Phoenix missile.
F-14 missions were employed over a wide range of operations. Below is a list most of them:
· American withdrawal from Saigon (1975)
· Cold War intercepts (1976–1991)
· Operations during the Lebanese Civil War (1976 and 1982–1986)
· Attempted rescue of American hostages in Iran (1980)
· Military operations directed at Libya (1980–1989)
· Somali anti-aircraft fire incident (1983)
· Invasion of Grenada (1983)
· MS Achille Lauro incident (1985)
· Intervention in the “Tanker War” (1987–1988)
· The Persian Gulf War (1990–1991)
· Interwar air operations over Iraq (1991–2003)
· Balkans (1994–1995 and 1999)
· Operation Enduring Freedom (2001–2003)
· Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003–2006
Unfortunately, this aircraft was sold to the republic of Iran in the earlier years when Iran was still considered a ‘friendly’ nation. Although we have much pride in the F-14, we’re sure this plane cannot stand up to the newer F-22 Viper and the F-35 lightning, should aggressive actions accelerate between these two nations.
Just as disconcerting and more imminent is the possibility of a war between Israel and Iran, we’re we may see dogfights between Israeli F-16s and the Iranian F-14s (and other Iranian aircraft). We’re sure military aircraft experts would be watching with a keen eye should an event like this would occur, but odds are the F-14s would again not be a match to the technically upgraded F-16s and the more advanced Israeli Air Force.
With that said, we have seen a proud history of the F-14 throughout its successful lifetime.