The F-14 retires

I’m not sure why, but this makes me a little sad:

AN era of aviation history has drawn to a close with the US-made F-14 Tomcat fighter plane – the one flown into the danger zone by Tom Cruise in the film Top Gun – being withdrawn from active service.

The Tomcat is going into mothballs because advances in military technology have made its greatest attribute – the ability to manoeuvre at high speeds and in close combat situations – redundant.

Fighter planes no longer need such abilities because they don’t dogfight any more. Instead, pilots shoot at each other with target-seeking rockets, sometimes from 20km away.

The Tomcats were officially retired from service last week, replaced by FA-18 Super Hornets that are cheaper to maintain, easier to operate from aircraft carriers and able to carry more bombs.

The F-14 requires nearly 50 maintenance hours for every flight hour compared to five to 10 hours maintenance for the FA-18.

The F-14 entered operational service in 1974 when two squadrons were assigned to the USS Enterprise, replacing F-4 Phantom fighters that were eventually phased out in 1986.

The Tomcat was designed in the Cold War era to be the world’s best fighter-interceptor. Its primary task was to defend aircraft carriers against cruise missile-armed Soviet aircraft.

I thought they were deployed to deliver a particularly heavy missile.  But I forget the exact details and don’t really keep up on this sort of thing.  I just marvel at the capabilities and the engineering.

3 thoughts on “The F-14 retires

  1. Yup, that’s right. The Pheonix. It’s big, but the main reason why it can’t be carried on the F/A-18 is the radar required to track targets at 100+ miles away. The F-14’s reason for living was to intercept bombers carrying cruise missiles (or cruise missiles themselves) before they could fire their missiles at the fleet. There’s nothing in the arsenal that can do that now. (I hope the phalanx system works well!) But, I’m no expert, I just play one on the internet. I would imagine that the officer’s club (officersclub.blogspot.com, I think) will have something up about it shortly, or already has written something.

  2. Yeah, the AIM-54. When you absolutely positively have to splash every last friggin bandit beyond visual range, accept no substiutes.

    I think it’s funny that the article says that the F-14 is being required because aircraft don’t get into up close dogfights anymore, then they say that the F-14 was designed as an interceptor (which means looooong range).

    The AMRAAM only goes out about 30 mile, according to internet sources, and http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/missile/aaam.htm indicates why the F-14 was “discontinued”.

    Sad. The end of a era.

  3. I remember going out to Kirtland AFB in Albuquerque, N.M. in the early 1970’s to see an F14. The word got out that one had landed and they were letting people look at it across a fence. Hard to believe they’re gone.

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