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Was it a mistake to retire the F-14 Tomcat??...

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  • Was it a mistake to retire the F-14 Tomcat??...

    OK, forgetting all of the Top Gun movie nostalgia for this fighter, given it's excellent performance in combat, was it not a mistake to retire this fighter?? I realize that stealth is important, but the F-14 could lock on to multiple targets at close to 100 miles. So, despite the expenses, would it not have been worth it to keep the F-14 in service??

  • #2
    Originally posted by UALdave View Post
    OK, forgetting all of the Top Gun movie nostalgia for this fighter, given it's excellent performance in combat, was it not a mistake to retire this fighter?? I realize that stealth is important, but the F-14 could lock on to multiple targets at close to 100 miles. So, despite the expenses, would it not have been worth it to keep the F-14 in service??
    The F-14 could lock on to multiple targets at 100 miles away, because the US thought they would have to fight against armadas of Soviet nuclear bombers. These days, there is hardly any need for an air superiority fighter. Even the F-22, Rafale and Typhoon are pretty expensive toys with no real combat scenario anymore... They do lokk good, though - at least the Rafale and the Typhoon, but that's MY taste... *lol...

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    • #3
      I think F-14 was to expensive to maintain and was big. That's why they came out with much better solution F-18. Another reason I think they got rid of it is because there was no interest for export except Iran. I think simple fighters like F-16 and F-18 is the way to go but like all planes the technology gets old and you have to come up with some thing new like F-35 which will be a kick a.s fighter.

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      • #4
        It was a mistake to stop the F-14D production so early and not to go ahead with the F-14 2000 program which would have given the USN a striker comparable to the F-15E with longer range and AIM-54C.

        Retiring the left fleet was unavoidable as the F-14A were really getting old and tired.
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        • #5
          Honestly, why would the USN need any AIM-54-capable aircraft at all?

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          • #6
            If money were no object then retaining the tomcat and later bombcats would have been the gold plated solution. The alternative 'Gen 1' hornets were a far more cost effective, not combat effective solution. Then again, if money were no object the USN would be flying A-12's too.

            The main reason was as has been stated cost (something like 3 or 5 times times as many maintenance hours per flight hour than the F/A 1, and fatigue life.

            Peter, the reason for the Phoenix has already been stated - to attack large soviet bomber formations before they got within range to launch their AS-4's (a cruise missile about the size of a Mig-15 - designed as a carrier or capital ship killer. In it's day the AWG-9/Phoenix combo was an astonishing achievement, these days even better capabilities are available in the AESA radar in the latest Super Hornets.

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            • #7
              The F-14 is/was my favourite aircraft, Grumman is the goods when it comes to design and quality.
              The multiple target arrangement wasn't JUST for bomber formations...it also enables multiple targeting of anything! No matter what altitude, speed or direction, the computer could compute a solution for all of them almost simaltaneously, and so give itself a good chance of escape from multiple bogies. Reports of 30 plus targets at once from a sketchy memory! (Pointless if you only have 5-6 missiles...but hey!)
              It was the avionics not the aircraft that made this possble.

              I think the F-18 was a better replacement than most thought it would be. I consider the 18 to be one of the few genuine Fighter Bombers going around - proved itself in Gulf2. The 18 is as beautiful and dangerous as the 14 - whoever designed them is certainly in the right job!

              Heres a question though...If the swing wing idea worked such as in the F-14, F-111 (Now theres a bomber - gives me a chubby just thinking about it) and Vigilante...even the Tornado, why was the idea never repeated in the future? Especially with aircraft just getting faster and the need for shorter runways greater?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Luka View Post
                Heres a question though...If the swing wing idea worked such as in the F-14, F-111 (Now theres a bomber - gives me a chubby just thinking about it) and Vigilante...even the Tornado, why was the idea never repeated in the future? Especially with aircraft just getting faster and the need for shorter runways greater?
                Swing wing designs add weight, complexity (not just wing sweep mechanisms, but also pivoting the angles of any pylons) and particularly in these days where Low Observability and airframe shaping is so important, having a major part of the airframe changing the carefully managed angles, as well as having to allow gaps and slots to allow wing sweep make the swing wing an anachronism.

                Aircraft have not been getting faster really since the 1980's. That was the heyday with the Mig25/31, F14 and F15 capable of well over Mach 2.3. This speed was only achievable at massive fuel cost and so was only used in a tiny number of situations. The design compromises forced on an airframe optimised for a high dash speed usually ruined agility. These days empasis is on the ability to supercruise, and accelleration rather than ultimate top speed. Despite looking like a real fat boy next to an F16 the F35 can show it a clean set of heels in high subsonic accelleration. Often chase plane pilots in F16's during the F35 testing have had to use reheat to stay in touch whilst the F35 has just been using military power. For all that the F35 isn't a real speedster - Mach 1.6-1.8 tops IIRC - slower ultimately than the Mach 2+ F-16.

                The other reason why top speed is being de-empasised is that designs with high speed usually require variable intakes - again, complexity, cost, maintenance and radar cross section issues.

                Shorter runways - again not really a recent issue - back in the 60's and 70's because the engines compared with today were not that powerful, to achieve decent speeds aircraft were designed with fairly highly loaded wings requiring high take-off speeds (think F104 et al). With todays engines developing massive power and wing designs being optimised for agility rather than speed, todays fixed wing machines like the F15 can be off the deck in something like a couple of hundred meters (lightly loaded) rather than the couple of thousand of their forebears. Or you can design in a thrust vectoring suystem that will help also.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Peter Kesternich View Post
                  Honestly, why would the USN need any AIM-54-capable aircraft at all?
                  A long range active homing AAM is a good thing. not only for the US. We must not forget that the US did not invest much into the F-14 since the early 1990ies. A modern F-14 would have an AESA (probably better than what the F-22 has as the F-14 has more room in the nose and power supply would be no problem when replacing the AWG-9) and an up-dated AIM-54 with a new rocket motor, improved mid-course up-dates and a even better seeker.

                  The METEOR missile shows that the need for such a weapon is still real.

                  And if you do not need the AIM-54 for a mission, the F-14D or better still has plenty of range and load carrying capability.
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                  • #10
                    @Luka: Swing wing was a "fashion" during the 1950's and 1960's, when jetfighters were fere fitted with either straight or swept wings (e.g.F-9 Cougar and Panther, F-84 Thunderstreak). Each configuration has its advantages and disadvantages, so engineers looked for a solution which covered all steps of flight with only one wing-configuration.
                    Today, the "fashion" leads to smaller (not small) leight-weight fighter / fighter bombers, which should be agile and hard to detect by radar. A solid mechanism which moves the wings from 16 to 72 degrees increases only the weight and size of this aircraft. All of the swing-wing designs were not small: F-14, F-111 or Tornado. Even earlier Soviet jetfighters or bombers with swing wings had their limitations, mainly in size. But, let me take a short look back to understand the origins of the F-14:
                    Without the 1960 TFX-programme for a Multi-Service fighter (the same type should serve with Navy and Air Force) there never would have been a F-14. This multi-service fighter was the F-111, with a Navy-version F-111B. This was a F-111A with shortened wings and a shorter nose, designed to carry the (new) developed AIM-54 and equipped with the AWG-9 radar. Problems with increasing weight and different other failings led to the cancellation of this project after 1968. The seven prototypes made more 1700 hours and 1100 flights and Grumman took all results into its new F-14, a single-service fighter which contained all knowledge and experience the F-111B collected.
                    All fighters and bombers developed or build during Cold War, had their time and after nearly 40 years its time to say good-bye to F-14. And for the B-52 also.


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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by UALdave View Post
                      OK, forgetting all of the Top Gun movie nostalgia for this fighter, given it's excellent performance in combat, was it not a mistake to retire this fighter??
                      I'm sorry, what excellent combat performance are you referring to? In what war? Do you mean two Lybian MiG-23s shot down over the Med?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by seahawk View Post
                        A long range active homing AAM is a good thing. (...)
                        Hmmmmm - in my opinion a long range, active homing AAM was a good thing. There really isn't a scenario these days, where it would be useful.

                        Originally posted by seahawk View Post
                        The METEOR missile shows that the need for such a weapon is still real.
                        Just because a piece of equipment is being built doesn't mean it is a) useful or b) really needed. I think the F-22 is a good example.

                        Originally posted by seahawk View Post
                        And if you do not need the AIM-54 for a mission, the F-14D or better still has plenty of range and load carrying capability.
                        ... and is stilll big, complex and expensive...

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                        • #13
                          IŽd say such a long range missile makes even more sense today. With Link16 the fighter could use off board sensors for the midcourse up-dates which would allow the fighter to turn around directly after launch. Obviously there is no need for such a missile in current conflicts, but the next conflict is never like the last.
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                          • #14
                            And for the B-52 also
                            The B-52 is projected to stay in service till 2040

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by seahawk View Post
                              Obviously there is no need for such a missile in current conflicts, but the next conflict is never like the last.
                              But it's a lot like the one before last, as you seem to be insinuating?

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