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One of America's most beloved, iconic, and revered fighter planes. Accoladed for its beautiful and sleek lines and intimidating posture and form the F-14 Tomcat was also one of the most feared aviation weapons of the 20th century. Sadly, this venerable jet fighter was retired way too early being the unfortunate victim in all too common defense contract politics.
Known for its Mach 2 speed and remarkable air combat maneuvering ability the Tomcat was feared mostly for it's ability to carry and fire the famous AIM-54 "Phoenix" missile capable of Mach 5 and knocking out an aircraft up to 100 miles away. One of the greatest interceptors the F-14 was no slouch duking it out in a knifefight in a phoone booth. Plenty of times US AirForce jet jockeys were amazingly beat in mock dogfights when Tomcats were inivted to RedFlag excercises. In the Tomcat's later years the Navy found the mighty jet to be useful for laser guided strategic bombing, earning the nickname, "Bombcat". Unfortunately, then Sec of Defense Dick Cheney had his hand in the demise of Grumman's utimate fighter jet by ending the contract for this amazing jet and ordered Grumman to destroy the tooling denying there ever being even a remote chance that production could ever resume on the Tomcat. Many in the fighter community sincerely believe Cheney's pockets were lined with mounds and mounds of Boeing money so that their F/A-18 Super Hornet would replace Grumman's F-14 as the Navy's frontline fighter and strike attack aircraft. Ironically when contracts were up for grabs back in early 90's between Boeing and Grumman for the front line Navy jet the Tomcat routinely showed it was far better and more capable in most of the key critical requirements, such as thrust to weight ratio, range, armament, sheer speed, climb to altitude, rate of turn and sustainability, ability to use energy better in dogfights. The only areas where the SuperBug bested the mighty Cat was in advanced avionics, ease of flying, and the most obvious, ease of maintenance. Unfortunately, despite the evidence supporting the Tomcat's superiority and ability to upgrade to equal avionics as the SH, our Defense department went with Boeing. The Super Hornet is a great fighter jet, it's just not a Tomcat, or a F-15 Eagle. Ask former Tomcat aviators who now fly the F/A-18 E/F and they'll tell you they feel the power and might of the Tomcat would give them the upper hand in almost any hostile situation and feel the Tomcat should have resumed production and also feel that Grumman could have easily worked at the maintenance aspect. They do praise the Super Hornet for it's world class avionics, tremendous ease of maintenance, and are impressed by how easy it is to fly and maneuver in a dogfight. They feel the Super Hornet could almost equal the Tomcat if they received much more powerful engines. The Dept of Defense is working towards that goal. Although the Super Hornet will eventually get closer to the awesomeness of the Tomcat, it just won't ever be as loved like the F-14 was for it's beauty and cult following status.
Want an example of how the F-14 Tomcat can attract so many admirers? Just look up in Google images "F-14 VF-103" or "F-14 VF-111". Now that's sexy in the air!!
by VF-103 Jolly Roger October 22, 2008
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