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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 06:24 AM Thread Starter
 
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Navy retires F-14, the coolest of cold warriors



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VIRGINIA BEACH — Today the Navy holsters the F-14 Tomcat, the top gun in its Cold War arsenal and one of the most recognizable warplanes in history.

Maintenance costs for the F-14 have soared, and its replacement, the F/A-18 Super Hornet, is more versatile and cheaper to maintain.

The Super Hornet is unlikely to surpass the F-14's following. Furiously fast, deafeningly loud and lethal to enemy aircraft, the Tomcat had attained legendary status by the 1980s. The 1986 film Top Gun, in which Tom Cruise portrayed an F-14 pilot in training, cemented the supersonic warplane's reputation in the popular culture.

"There's something about the way an F-14 looks, something about the way it carries itself," says Adm. Michael Mullen, chief of naval operations, the Navy's top officer. "It screams toughness. Look down on a carrier flight deck and see one of them sitting there, and you just know, there's a fighter plane. I really believe the Tomcat will be remembered in much the same way as other legendary aircraft, like the Corsair, the Mustang and the Spitfire."

The Tomcat was designed in the late 1960s with one enemy in mind: the Soviet Union. The jet was typically launched from an aircraft carrier, and its twin engines could propel it at twice the speed of sound. Its armaments deterred Soviet bombers designed to fire missiles at U.S. Navy ships.

"It was intended to do one thing really well," says John Pike, a military analyst at GlobalSecurity, a think tank based in Alexandria, Va. "The Soviets evidently respected it. Their answer was to build bigger and faster bombers."

After the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, the F-14 was something of a stray cat. It had no real enemy in a world with one superpower. Eventually, the Navy armed it with precision bombs and targeting systems and added attack missions to its résumé.

Tomcats, with their two-member crews of a pilot and a backseat radar officer, flew missions in Desert Storm, in the Balkans and, until February, in Iraq.

"The Tomcat has been a dogfighter, an interceptor, a reconnaissance platform, even a bomber — whatever the Navy needed it to do," Mullen says.

Pike calls it "a crowning achievement of 20th-century aviation."

After today's ceremony, the Navy will mothball some F-14s in the Arizona desert and ship others to aviation museums.

A monument at Oceana Naval Air Station will be dedicated to the 69 Tomcat crewmembers killed while flying the jet, says retired rear admiral Fred Lewis, chairman of the Tomcat Sunset Committee, a non-profit group established to organize farewell ceremonies for the F-14.

"That's the risk we all accepted when we flew the plane," Lewis says.

The only other country flying F-14s after today will be Iran, Pike says. Starved for spare parts, the Iranians struggle to keep the jets in flight.

Smuggled parts will be even harder to come by after the Navy retires the Tomcat.

"Nobody will be sorrier to see them go than the ayatollahs," Pike says.

Cmdr. Curt Seth will miss them, too. He runs his hand across his F-14's aluminum skin, ducks down to examine its landing gear, pats a wing and stands back for a full view of his Tomcat fighter before one of its final flights this week.

"It's the only plane that looks fast sitting still," says Seth, 41, whose call sign "Opie" fits his freckled face and sandy hair.

The aging Tomcat requires 40 or more hours of maintenance for a single hour of flight, says Seth, executive officer for the "Tomcatters" of Fighter Squadron 31. The Super Hornet requires less than half that maintenance time.

It may be old and expensive, but the Tomcat hasn't lost a step.

"The F/A-18 is like a Porsche; it handles really well," Seth says. "The F-14 is like a Corvette, a muscle car. It just has tremendous power. It's just a fun plane to fly."

And it's fast. Minutes after it roars down the runway and takes off from Oceana Naval Air Station, the Tomcat is over the open ocean and in airspace restricted for military aircraft.

Quickly, smoothly and quietly — at least inside the cockpit — the Tomcat breaks the sound barrier.

"It's not like it was in Chuck Yeager's day anymore," says Seth, referring to the venerable test pilot who was the first in the world to fly at supersonic speed in 1947.

"Ten or 11 miles per minute," Seth says. "That's pretty quick."

For all its speed, the F-14 is remarkably nimble. It's capable of razor-sharp, stomach-churning banks, climbs, rolls and dives. Seth happily demonstrates.

All the while — whether upside down or plastered to his seat by forces several times that of gravity — Seth chats matter of factly.

"That's 4½ Gs," he says of the gravitational pull that makes your arms feel like they're encased in wet cement.

Back on the ground, Seth turns wistful.

"It's a great airplane," he says. "The Tomcat is going out on top."
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 07:27 AM
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Yup...last flight should be wrapping up as I type.

You'll never see her fly again.

Goddamned shame.


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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 08:02 AM
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Rip F-14


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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 08:36 AM
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 09:19 AM
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Rip F-14
thanks For the MEMORIES!!


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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 09:40 AM
 
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Top Gun was a kickass movie. RIP Tomcat
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 10:33 AM
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New it was coming, what I didn't know was that Iran had them. Well I must admit, watching FLIR footage and seeing the US blow up stuff they sold to another country is always amusing.


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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 11:56 AM
 
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Time to use the F-22...
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 02:50 PM
 
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R.i.p.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 02:52 PM
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R.i.p.
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 03:14 PM
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Yup...last flight should be wrapping up as I type.

You'll never see her fly again.

Goddamned shame.
I'm nearly in tears.

HAIL TO THE KING!!

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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 03:46 PM
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I'm nearly in tears.
Nearly? Than you don't need a tissue Junior F-14 was a cool plane, but kinda old and big. I was working at an auto shop on Miramar Dr., back when TG was at Miramar in the 90's. Anyway, these two plane's are coming straight down Miramar dr.(like 3ft apart), the little plane(don't know what kind) hooked a 180(like quick), the F-14 tried and just swung so wide........like a semi truck, the other plane was gone! The F-14 was still trying to turn around to chase..... I was just like, that was awesome Guess it is time now for change..............
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 04:20 PM
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AIM-154

'nuff said.

HAIL TO THE KING!!

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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-22-2006, 08:43 PM
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AIM-154

'nuff said.
abso-fucking-lutely.

there was nothing old and slow about the tomcat. believe it or not, with equal pilots, the tomcat (delta version) can still rip apart the hornet. hornets just don't have the thrust. manuverability ain't shit when you can't keep up the speed. yea, she was a maintenance nightmare, but so are ferraris and lambos . she can STILL keep up with and outrun almost EVERYTHING the military owns. Only the F-15 and F-4 were equal to or faster than the tomcat.

no matter what anyone says, there was nothing more menacing than seeing her, wings spread, roll in on a target. just LOOKED like some kind of horrible creature wrapping up its prey.

this video says it all.



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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 12:08 AM
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and how many of her victims ever actually got to see her? I remember reading about a tornado squadron on maneuvers up in Goose, and I guess a squad of Tomcats had nailed fox-3's on all of them early in the day, they didn't even know, continued the manuevers, wasn't until they where on the ground that they realized that they'd been dead all day.

putting an F-16 against a tomcat is bringing a shiv to a sniper dual.

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post #16 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 09:54 AM
 
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Nearly? Than you don't need a tissue Junior F-14 was a cool plane, but kinda old and big. I was working at an auto shop on Miramar Dr., back when TG was at Miramar in the 90's. Anyway, these two plane's are coming straight down Miramar dr.(like 3ft apart), the little plane(don't know what kind) hooked a 180(like quick), the F-14 tried and just swung so wide........like a semi truck, the other plane was gone! The F-14 was still trying to turn around to chase..... I was just like, that was awesome Guess it is time now for change..............
What you saw was an A-4 against a tomcat....
and while the A-4 would have killed it in manueverability in close, you must also realize that with the targeting rader and Phoenix missles that the Tomcat carried, the A-4 would not have gotten within 50 miles of the Tomcat without finding itself soinning in little peices into the ocean.

Add in the fact that Tomcats generally worked in conjunction with AEGIS equipped crusiers and you can extend that radar lock out to over 150 miles.....

the 18, 16, and even the air superiority version fo the 15 had, have, and will never have that kind of range.

the reason the 18 is now the preferred weapon for the navy has less to do with the maintenance time/costs than it does to do with the overall adaptability of the platform.


the f?A-18 was designed from the start to be a dual role platform. supporting both air supperiority and attack missions. The f-14 was designed with one thing in mind......killing other planes.

just like the f-111 before it, the f-18 was designed to be a decent killing of airborne vehicles, and to deliver a bomb load in a precision guided environment. It was desinged to be more on the fighter side than the f-111 and also to deliver lighter bomb loads. It has done well at both missions and excelled at neither.

it is a multi-purpose plan designed for the current incarnation of "warfare" versus a previous version.

todays aircraft must function in multiple roles to be accepted as modern airforces have continually shrunk in size.

its no different than getting a Chevy avalanche instead of a Suburban or a Pickup truck.
It will function capably in either role, yet will not function in either role as well as the more specialized vehicle.


one of the other reasons for the demise of the Tomcat, is that the Department of the navy no longer wishes to pay the millions of dollars required to keep the AIM-154 Phoenix in production. Currently, only the Tomcat is using this missle, and while it is an outstanding long range standoff weapon, its use in the modern battlefield is becoming more and more limited and relegating it to a more and more narrow window of use.

add it all up, and the Tomcat did its intended job, argueably better than all but a select few aircraft (SR-71, F-15E, B-17) have in the history of aviation.
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post #17 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 12:15 PM
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budha...always the intelligent voice of reason. missed ya mike!

actually, as an afterthought "bombcat" worked VERY well. The LANTRIN pod in combo with the significant amount of munitions the tomcat could carry (and bring back), speed which she could fly and her range made for a great bombing platform.

hornet has always been pitiful with bring back capability and range. VX-4 discovered that years ago, and actually recommended against procurement of the F/A-18A/B models. in order for the hornet to have any sort of legs (outside of hitting the tanker), she had to carry 1, 2 or 3 external tanks. once again, reduced the amount of munitions it could carry and reduced its bring back. kind of a damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario. not to mention, carrying external stores greatly hindered her dogfighting ability. most of the time on ACM dets in my old hornet unit, we'd strip the external tanks before training flights so that the pilots would get a leg up on 15's and 16's. none of them would take a hornet with even a centerline into the ACM arena.

versitility has its place, for sure. nice to see an aircraft that can perform numerous roles. kind of sounds like a dual-sport.

however, i'll take my R1 for canyon riding anyday!

and i seriously doubt ricky would want to take a lap at aneheim on a DR-350....


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post #18 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 12:45 PM
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versitility has its place, for sure. nice to see an aircraft that can perform numerous roles. kind of sounds like a dual-sport.

however, i'll take my R1 for canyon riding anyday!

and i seriously doubt ricky would want to take a lap at aneheim on a DR-350....
that's a very apt analogy.

Budha, what purpose exactly was the eagle for anyways? I never really understood that plane, it seemed like it was the first real "multi role" plane.

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post #19 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 05:04 PM
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talk about multi role....this must be next...
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post #20 of 21 (permalink) Old 09-23-2006, 05:25 PM
 
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that's a very apt analogy.

Budha, what purpose exactly was the eagle for anyways? I never really understood that plane, it seemed like it was the first real "multi role" plane.
The F-15 was designed as a ground based interceptor.
It was for the Air Force alone and not designed to withstand the shock of carrier landings.
It was also the first fighter that truely allowed one person to do all roles easily and with the abilty to "synch" with grround and airborne radars, it could find, track, and destroy targets that were invisible to most other planes.

It was also the only fighter to ever outperform the tomcat, however it was not a standoff platform like the tomcat but rather an interceptor that was designed to get to an enemy quickly, shoot it down quickly, and then get the hell outta dodge....

it was originally designed to operate over land almost exclusively, however by the E variant had becoma an all weather, all topography interceptor.

it basically replcaed all other f versions for interceptor roles when it came out.
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