The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy's Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed incorporating air combat experience against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.
The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform into the 1990s. The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system were added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions.
In the 1980s F-14s were used as land-based interceptors by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force during the Iran–Iraq War, where they saw combat against Iraqi warplanes. Iranian F-14s reportedly shot down at least 160 Iraqi aircraft during the war, while only 12 to 16 Tomcats were lost; at least half of these losses were due to accidents.
The Tomcat was retired from the U.S. Navy's active fleet on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-14 remains in service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976.
carrier battle groups against long-range anti-ship missiles launched from the jet bombers and submarines of the Soviet Union. The U.S. Navy needed a Fleet Air Defense (FAD) aircraft with a more powerful radar and longer range missiles than the F-4 Phantom II carried to intercept both enemy bombers and missiles. The Navy was directed to participate in the Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) program with the U.S. Air Force by Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara. McNamara wanted "joint" solutions to service aircraft needs to reduce development costs, and had already directed the Air Force to buy the F-4 Phantom II, which was developed for the Navy and Marine Corps. The Navy strenuously opposed the TFX as it feared compromises necessary for the Air Force's need for a low-level attack aircraft would adversely impact the aircraft's performance as a fighter
Weight and performance issues plagued the U.S. Navy F-111B variant for TFX and would not be resolved to the Navy's satisfaction. The F-111 manufacturer General Dynamics partnered with Grumman on the Navy F-111B. With the F-111B program in distress, Grumman began studying improvements and alternatives. In 1966, the Navy awarded Grumman a contract to begin studying advanced fighter designs. Grumman narrowed down these designs to its 303 design. Vice Admiral Thomas F. Connolly, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Air Warfare, took the developmental F-111A variant for a flight and discovered that it had difficulty going supersonic and had poor carrier landing characteristics. He later testified before Congress about his concerns against the official Department of the Navy position and, in May 1968, Congress stopped funding for the F-111B, allowing the Navy to pursue an answer tailored to its requirements. The name "Tomcat" was partially chosen to pay tribute to Admiral Connolly, as the nickname "Tom's Cat" had already been widely used by the manufacturer, although the name also followed the Grumman tradition of naming its fighter aircraft after felines.
The F-14 Tomcat was designed as both an air superiority fighter and a long-range naval interceptor, which enabled it to both escort attack aircraft when armed with Sparrow missiles and fleet air defense loitering interceptor role when armed with Phoenix missiles. The F-14 was designed with a two-seat cockpit with a bubble canopy which affords all-around visibility aiding aircrew in air-to-air combat. It features variable geometry wings that swing automatically during flight. For high-speed intercept, they are swept back and they swing forward for lower speed flight. It was designed to improve on the F-4 Phantom's air combat performance in most respects.
The F-14's fuselage and wings allow it to climb faster than the F-4, while the twin-tail arrangement offers better stability. The F-14 is equipped with an internal 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling cannon mounted on the left side (unlike the Phantom, which was not equipped with an internal gun in the US Navy), and can carry AIM-54 Phoenix, AIM-7 Sparrow, and AIM-9 Sidewinder anti-aircraft missiles. The twin engines are housed in widely spaced nacelles. The flat area of the fuselage between the nacelles is used to contain fuel and avionics systems, such as the wing-sweep mechanism and flight controls, as well as weaponry since the wings were not used for carrying ordnance. By itself, the fuselage provides approximately 40 to 60 percent of the F-14's aerodynamic lifting surface depending on the wing sweep position. The lifting body characteristics of the fuselage allowed one F-14 to safely land after suffering a mid-air collision that sheared off more than half of the plane's right wing in 1991.
Soviet anti-ship cruise missile and bomber (Tupolev Tu-16, Tupolev Tu-22, Tupolev Tu-22M) threats. The Tomcat was to be a platform for the AIM-54 Phoenix, but unlike the canceled F-111B, it could also engage medium- and short-range threats with other weapons. The F-14 was an air superiority fighter, not just a long-range interceptor aircraft. Over 6,700 kg (14,800 lb) of stores could be carried for combat missions on several hardpoints under the fuselage and under the wings. Commonly, this meant a maximum of two–four Phoenixes or Sparrows on the belly stations, two Phoenixes/Sparrows on the wing hardpoints, and two Sidewinders on the wing hardpoints. The F-14 was also fitted with an internal 20 mm M61 Vulcan Gatling-type cannon.
Operationally, the capability to hold up to six Phoenix missiles was never used, although early testing was conducted; there was never a threat requirement to engage six hostile targets simultaneously and the load was too heavy to safely recover aboard an aircraft carrier in the event that the missiles were not fired. During the height of Cold War operations in the late 1970s and 1980s, the typical weapon loadout on carrier-deployed F-14s was usually only one AIM-54 Phoenix, augmented by two AIM-9 Sidewinders, two AIM-7 Sparrow IIIs, a full loadout of 20 mm ammunition and two drop tanks. The Phoenix missile was used twice in combat by the U.S. Navy, both over Iraq in 1999, but the missiles did not score any kills.
Iran made use of the Phoenix system, claiming several kills with it during the 1980-1988 Iran–Iraq War. Iran tried to use other missiles on the Tomcat. It attempted to integrate the Russian R-27R "Alamo" BVR missile, but was apparently unsuccessful.
Data from U.S. Navy file, Spick, M.A.T.S. FlightGlobalGeneral characteristics
- Crew: 2 (Pilot and Radar Intercept Officer)
- Length: 62 ft 9 in (19.1 m)
- Spread: 64 ft (19.55 m)
- Swept: 38 ft (11.58 m)
- Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
- Wing area: 565 ft² basic, 1008 ft² effective (54.5 m² basic, 93.6 m² effective)
- Airfoil: NACA 64A209.65 mod root, 64A208.91 mod tip
- Empty weight: 43,735 lb (19,838 kg)
- Loaded weight: 61,000 lb (27,700 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 74,350 lb (33,720 kg)
- Maximum fuel capacity: 16,200 lb (7,350 kg) internal; 20,000 lb (9,070 kg) with 2x 267 gal (1,010 L) external tanks
- Powerplant: 2 × General Electric F110-GE-400 afterburning turbofans
- Dry thrust: 16,610 lbf (73.9 kN) each
- Thrust with afterburner: 28,200 lbf (134 kN) each
- Maximum speed: Mach 2.34 (1,544 mph, 2,485 km/h) at high altitude
- Combat radius: 500 nmi (575 mi, 926 km)
- Ferry range: 1,600 nmi (1,840 mi, 2,960 km)
- Service ceiling: 50,000+ ft (15,200 m)
- Rate of climb: >45,000 ft/min (229 m/s)
- Wing loading: 96 lb/ft²(468.7 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.88 (1.0 with loaded weight & 50% internal fuel)
- Guns: 1× 20 mm (0.787 in) M61A1 Vulcan 6-barreled Gatling cannon, with 675 rounds
- Hardpoints: 10 total: 6× under-fuselage, 2× under nacelles and 2× on wing gloves with a capacity of 14,500 lb (6,600 kg) of ordnance and fuel tanks
- Loading configurations:
- 2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-54 (Rarely used due to weight stress on airframe)
- 2× AIM-9 + 2× AIM-54 + 3× AIM-7 (Most common load during Cold War era)
- 2× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54 + 2× AIM-7
- 2× AIM-9 + 6× AIM-7
- 4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-54
- 4× AIM-9 + 4× AIM-7
- Hughes AN/APG-71 radar
- AN/ASN-130 Inertial navigation system, Infra-red search and track, TCS
- Remotely Operated Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) upgrade
The Northrop Grumman (formerly Grumman) EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, four-seat, mid-wing electronic warfare aircraft derived from the A-6 Intruder airframe. The EA-6A was the initial electronic warfare version of the A-6 used by the United States Marine Corps and United States Navy. Development on the more advanced EA-6B began in 1966. An EA-6B aircrew consists of one pilot and three Electronic Countermeasures Officers, though it is not uncommon for only two ECMOs to be used on missions. It is capable of carrying and firing anti-radiation missiles (ARM), such as the AGM-88 HARM missile.
The Prowler has been in service with the U.S. Armed Forces since 1971. It has carried out numerous missions for jamming enemy radar systems, and in gathering radio intelligence on those and other enemy air defense systems. From the 1998 retirement of the United States Air Force EF-111 Raven electronic warfare aircraft, the EA-6B was the only dedicated electronic warfare plane available for missions by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force until the fielding of the Navy's EA-18G Growler in 2009. Following its last deployment in late 2014, the EA-6B was withdrawn from U.S. Navy service in June 2015. The USMC plans to operate the Prowler until 2019.
EF-10B Skyknights. The EA-6A was a direct conversion of the standard A-6 Intruder airframe, with two seats, equipped with electronic warfare (EW) equipment. The EA-6A was used by three Marine Corps squadrons during the Vietnam War. A total of 27 EA-6As were produced, with 15 of these being newly manufactured ones. Most of these EA-6As were retired from service in the 1970s with the last few being used by the Navy with two electronic attack "aggressor" squadrons, with all examples finally retired in the 1990s. The EA-6A was essentially an interim warplane until the more-advanced EA-6B could be designed and built.
The substantially redesigned and more advanced EA-6B was developed beginning in 1966 as a replacement for EKA-3B Skywarriors for the U.S. Navy. The forward fuselage was lengthened to create a rear area for a larger four-seat cockpit, and an antenna fairing was added to the tip of its vertical stabilizer. Grumman was awarded a $12.7 million contract to develop an EA-6B prototype on 14 November 1966. The Prowler first flew on 25 May 1968, and it entered service on aircraft carriers in July 1971. Three prototype EA-6Bs were converted from A-6As, and five EA-6Bs were developmental airplanes. A total of 170 EA-6B production aircraft were manufactured from 1966 through 1991.
The EA-6B Prowler is powered by two Pratt & Whitney J52 turbojet engines, and it is capable of high subsonic speeds. Due to its extensive electronic warfare operations, and the aircraft's age (produced until 1991), the EA-6B is a high-maintenance aircraft, and has undergone many frequent equipment upgrades. Although designed as an electronic warfare and command-and-control aircraft for air strike missions, the EA-6B is also capable of attacking some surface targets on its own, in particular enemy radar sites and surface-to-air missile launchers. In addition, the EA-6B is capable of gathering electronic signals intelligence.
The EA-6B Prowler has been continually upgraded over the years. The first such upgrade was named "expanded capability" (EXCAP) beginning in 1973. Then came "improved capability" (ICAP) in 1976 and ICAP II in 1980. The ICAP II upgrade provided the EA-6B with the capability of firing Shrike missiles and AGM-88 HARM missiles.
carrier-based and advanced base operations, the EA-6B is a fully integrated electronic warfare system combining long-range, all-weather capabilities with advanced electronic countermeasures. A forward equipment bay and pod-shaped fairing on the vertical fin house the additional avionics equipment. It has been the primary electronic warfare aircraft for the U.S Navy and U.S. Marine Corps. The EA-6B's primary mission is to support ground-attack strikes by disrupting enemy electromagnetic activity. As a secondary mission it can also gather tactical electronic intelligence within a combat zone, and another secondary mission is attacking enemy radar sites with anti-radiation missiles.
The Prowler has a crew of four, a pilot and three Electronic Countermeasures Officers (known as ECMOs). Powered by two non-afterburning Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408A turbojet engines, it is capable of speeds of up to 590 mph (950 km/h) with a range of 1,140 miles (1,840 km).
Design particulars include the refueling probe being asymmetrical, appearing bent to the right. It contains an antenna near its root. The canopy has a shading of gold to protect the crew against the radio emissions that the electronic warfare equipment produces.
- Crew: four (one pilot, three electronic countermeasures officers)
- Length: 59 ft 10 in (17.7 m)
- Wingspan: 53 ft (15.9 m)
- Height: 16 ft 8 in (4.9 m)
- Wing area: 528.9 ft² (49.1 m²)
- Empty weight: 31,160 lb (15,130 kg)
- Max. takeoff weight: 61,500 lb (27,900 kg)
- Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P408A turbojet, 10,400 lbf (46 kN) each
- Maximum speed: 566 knots (651 mph, 1,050 km/h)
- Cruise speed: 418 kt (481 mph, 774 km/h)
- Range: 2,022 mi (tanks kept) / 2,400 mi (tanks dropped) (3,254 km / 3,861 km)
- Service ceiling: 37,600 ft (11,500 m)
- Rate of climb: 12,900 ft/min (65 m/s)
- Wing loading: 116 lb/ft² (560 kg/m²)
- Thrust/weight: 0.34
- Hardpoints: 5 total: 1× centreline/under-fuselage plus 4× under-wing pylon stations with a capacity of 18,000 pounds (8,164.7 kg) and provisions to carry combinations of:
- AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receiver
- AN/USQ-113 Communications Jamming System
The EA6B Prowler was used to roll back the radar of the Soviet fighters like the Mig-29 or the radar capability of the Backfires to locate convoys. They also were used to jam the capability of the Soviet SAM systems, especially the SA-11(Which I will discuss in a future block ). They used the word "Queer" to describe the airplanes, I surmise from the gold lining the cockpit to protect the crew from the EW activities.