Grumman F-14 Tomcat

Overview

The F-14 was designed as an air superiority aircraft. Fighter working for the Navy as a carrier based fleet defence. In operational service the F-14a performed three missions, long range intercept, combat air patrol and barrier combat air patrol.

The design emphasis was on incorporating the TF30 engines, AWG-9 radar and AIM-54 Phoneix missiles. These combined with the need to intercept hostile aircraft hundreds of miles from the home carrier at twice the speed of sound created a considerably large fighter aircraft. The wing moves forward and back to give the best aerodynamic performance. Thus for take off and landing the wing will be swept back fully forward for maximum lift. The wing moves forward and back to give the best aerodynamic performance. The cockpit had 360 degrees of visibility which had not been experienced in a fighter before.

One of the major reasons for the F-14s ability in all missions was the AWG-9 multiple target tracking system radar. Another alternative was Data Link, a no-voice communication device that let the Air Warfare Commander on the ship dictate which targets were a priority.

The Tomcat's distinctive weapon is the big Hughes "AIM-54 Phoenix" AAMs. with a range of 200 kilometres (125 miles) and a fully active radar seeker, allowing the missile to perform its terminal-phase attack on a target without requiring that the Tomcat keep the target "illuminated" with radar. In principle, it gave the Tomcat the ability to destroy intruders at very long range.

In practice, a full armament load consists usually of four Phoenix missiles on the tunnel stations, plus two AIM-9 Sparrow semi-active radar homing (SARH) medium-range AAMs and two AIM-7 Sidewinder heatseeking short-range AAMs, for a total of eight AAMs. A Sparrow and a Sidewinder are carried on a special dual rack mounted on each wing glove pylon, with a Sparrow on the bottom of the rack and a Sidewinder to the outside. This unusual configuration was used because mounting stores pylons on a swing wing is tricky while there was limited room on the wing gloves. If the Phoenix is not carried, there are also recesses in the fuselage tunnel for carriage of three more Sparrows.

The Tomcat features a built-in General Electric (GE) M61A1 six-barreled Gatling-type 20 millimeter cannon, with an ammunition store of 675 rounds. The cannon is fitted under the left side of the cockpit.

The second generation F-14B would keep the same airframe as the F-14A and the same avionics but was to use the advanced technology engine, the Pratt and Whitney F401.

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