F-14 Tomcat

What is the F-14 Tomcat?

The F-14 “Tomcat,” also known by its full name, the Grumman F-14 “Tomcat,” is a supersonic, twin-engined, twin-seater, variable-swept wing fighter that can operate from aircraft carriers in the United States.

The United States Navy saw the need for a new category of aircraft to fulfill the goals of its Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program, which aimed to hunt and destroy high-speed bombers and other types of threats. As a result, The Tomcat. 

The F-14 “Tomcat,” which made its debut in the middle of the 1970s, became one of the most recognizable examples of an American jet fighter ever produced. After a long and successful career, the F-14’s notoriety would likely reach its pinnacle in 1986 with the release of the film “Top Gun.

Nonetheless, this time also serves as a vital yardstick to follow the jet’s deterioration and final retirement a few decades later. It can be traced back to this point. Let’s take a peek at this legendary avian warrior, shall we?

American experience fighting Soviet MiG -21 planes in Vietnam strongly inspired the design of the first fighter of the so-called “Teen Series,” the F-14.

The F-14 “Tomcat” is one of the most renowned American jet fighters of all time, but its most recognized role was in the 1980s blockbuster film “Top Gun,” which made the plane popular beyond the military.

F-14 Tomcat

The “Tomcat” was developed in the 1960s and had its maiden flight in December 1970. In 1974, the first squadrons were sent to the famed USS Enterprise.

The F-14, which was meant to replace the McDonnell Douglas F-4 “Phantom,” became the premier maritime air superiority fighter for the United States Navy.

In addition to these important roles, the aircraft was also tasked with performing others, such as fleet defense interception and tactical reconnaissance. 

The F-14 would remain in service long into the 2000s before being officially phased out of service with the United States Navy in 2006 in favor of the F-18 “Super Hornet,” which is capable of operating from aircraft carriers.

Weapons of Tomcat

The “Tomcat” can carry various weapons, including air-to-ground weaponry, such as GP bombs from the MK-80 series, LGBs, and JDAMs. Besides the Rockeye bomb and CBU cluster bombs, it may also be armed with AIM-7, AIM-9, and AIM-54 air-to-air missiles and air-to-ground artillery.

A single 20mm M61A1 Vulcan 6-barreled Gatling gun, stocked with 675 rounds for the F-14s, was standard ammunition. The F-14 utilizes a Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) targeting system to deliver laser-guided bombs for precision air-to-ground strikes and battle damage assessment.

The fighter’s so-called Fast Tactical Imagery (FTI) system allowed it to send and receive targeting/reconnaissance imagery mid-flight, giving it the capacity to launch strikes in response to urgent situations. 

The Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) allows for in-theater tactical reconnaissance and is compatible with later variants such as the F-14D “Super Tomcat.”

During its career, the aircraft would see action in various theaters, spanning from Vietnam to both of the Iraq wars. The Grumman Corporation, now known as the Northrop Grumman Corporation, is responsible for constructing more than 700 of these aircraft. However, only the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force operates them now.

Vital Stats of F-14 Tomcat

F-14 Tomcat
F-14 Tomcat

The aircraft was officially introduced on 21 December. Its First flight was on 22 September 1974, and it finally retired on 22 September 1974.

The Tomcat had an Unladen weight of 43,735 lb (19,838 kg) and had a service ceiling of circa 53,000 ft (16,000 m); in addition, it had a range of 1600 miles( 3000 km ).

Tomcat had a wingspan of 64 ft 1.5 in (19.545 m), and in length, it was 62 ft 9 in (19.13 m). it had a Twin General Electric F110-GE-400 engine. With a crew of two, it could fly at the speed of Mach 1 at sea level and Mach 2.34 at altitude. 

Here are a couple of reasons for Tomcat Retiring:

The F-14 “Tomcat” was phased out of service for many reasons, including high repair and replacement costs and outdated technology. After 30 years of excellent service to the U.S. Navy, the aircraft’s complicated sweep wing engineering made it unfeasible on a financial level.

The fighter’s most impressive feature is its wing sweep. The F-14’s wings could change from 20 degrees to 68 degrees when airborne to optimize flight at low and high speeds.

The fighter’s most impressive feature is its wing sweep. The F-14’s wings could change from 20 degrees to 68 degrees when airborne to optimize flight at low and high speeds. 

The “Central Air Data Computer” of the F-14 was responsible for the automatic control of this system; nevertheless, the pilot retained the ability to take manual control of it as well.

This technique was not only difficult to understand but also expensive and required significant work. 

The amount of time spent on this task was variable, but the majority of the figures that the Navy cited ranged from 30 to 60 hours of maintenance for every hour spent in the air, which was a huge headache. 


The F-14 “Tomcat” was a great plane in its day, but it was only good for specific missions. It was the most advanced and powerful fighter of its kind in the world when it first took to the skies.

While on the catapult or on approach to landing, the fighter’s whole trailing edge (flaps, spoilers, tailerons, and twin rudders) appeared to fan out like a turkey’s tail, earning it the nickname “Turkey” and drawing attention to the aircraft’s complexity.

There has never been a more aesthetically pleasing jet fighter than this one, and it remains a design classic. On the other hand, these benefits wouldn’t be permanent.

As a result of its narrow focus, more general-purpose fighters like the F-15 “Eagle” quickly outperformed it in areas like dog fighting.

The F-14 engines were originally designed for the F-111 Interdictor bomber. Hence they were never optimal for dog fighting.

Other weapons, especially Raytheon’s AMRAAM, made the F-14 less useful. It was “clunky” because it was heavy, had a complicated wing system, could be used on water, and needed a second crew member.

With the introduction of stealth-capable fighter aircraft, it was destined to retire. But the Tomcat will always be remembered. 

F-14 Tomcat