TYPE: Carrier borne air defence/air superiority fighter
COUNTRY OF ORIGIN: United States of America
POWERPLANTS: F-14A - Two 93.0kN (20,900lb) with afterburning Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-412 or -414A turbofans.
PERFORMANCE: F-14A - Max speed at altitude Mach 2.4 or 2485km/h (1342kt), max speed at low level 1468km/h (792kt). Max initial rate of climb over 30,000ft/min. Service ceiling over 50,000ft. Max range with internal and external fuel 3220km (1735nm). Radius on a combat air patrol mission with six AIM-7s and four AIM-9s 1233km (665nm).
WEIGHTS: F-14A - Empty (with -414A engines) 18,190kg (40,105lb), max takeoff (with six AIM-54 Phoenix) 32,098kg (70,764lb), max overload 33,724kg (74,349lb).
DIMENSIONS: F-14A - Wing span extended 19.54m (64ft 2in), span wings swept 11.65m (38ft 3in), length 19.10m (62ft 8in), height 4.88m (16ft Oin). Wing area 52.5m2 (565.0sq ft). Accommodation: Pilot and radar intercept officer (RIO) in tandem.
ARMAMENT: F-14A - One internal GE M61A1 Vulcan 20mm cannon. Typical intercept configuration of two AIM-54 Phoenix (the world's longest ranging air-to-air missile), two AIM-7 Sparrows and two AIM- 9 Sidewinders, or combinations thereof. In ground attack configuration can carry up to 6577kg (14,500lb) of conventional bombs.
HISTORY: Arguably the most capable air defence fighter currently in service, the Tomcat emerged from the embers of the failed F-111B program.
The cancellation of the overweight F-111B left the US Navy without a successor for the F-4 Phantom, which it flew primarily in the air defence role. Grumman acted as the lead contractor for the US Navy's version of General Dynamics' F-111, but had begun design studies on a new air defence fighter even before the F-111B's cancellation. One of Grumman's design concepts, the G-303, was thus selected in January 1969 to fill the gap left by the demise of the F-111B. The two crew G-303 was designed from the outset for carrier operations, although it retained many of the features of the F-111, including the powerful AWG-9 radar system and AIM-54 Phoenix compatibility, the P&W TF30 afterburning turbofans, and swing wings. Other design features included the twin tails and moveable foreplanes, or glove vanes.
The first prototype F-14 flew for the first time December 12 1970 (this aircraft subsequently crashed due to hydraulic failure), while a total of 556 production aircraft were delivered to the USN from 1972. Pre revolutionary Iran was the only Tomcat export customer, although the serviceability of the survivors of 79 delivered is questionable.
Apart from air defence and a limited ground attack capability, the Tomcat is also used for reconnaissance, carrying a Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) camera pod under the fuselage.
The F-14's TF30 turbofans have proved troublesome, and a number of blade failures have caused F-14 loses. Problems with the engines were largely overcome with the TF30-P-414A version, which has been adapted as standard. The re-engined F-14B and F-14D are described separately.