Famed Navy Tomcat Program Draws to an End
Posted on April 13, 2006:
The world's most recognized aircraft - the fast and lethal F-14 - is roaring
off into Naval history.
The people who supported research, development, test and training for the
mighty Tomcat will soon shutter the program on Patuxent River Naval Air
The Tomcat program (PMA-241) will host a disestablishment ceremony in Pax
River's hangar 2133 April 27 at 2 p.m. Rear Admiral David Venlet, NAVAIR's
Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft and a Tomcat aviator, will
speak at the ceremony.
The event, which is open to the public, will also serve as a farewell to
program manager Chris Frayser, who will transfer his expertise to the
E-2/C-2 program (PMA 231). Following the ceremony, the program is hosting a
reception at the Flight Deck Lounge.
"We are recognizing a legacy - the effort of sustaining the Tomcat, a
mainstay in Naval Aviation for 32 years," said Lt. Cmdr. Bob Hyde, assistant
program manager for logistics.
Over the years, the F-14 has been transformed from a single mission
air-to-air fighter to a combat proven precision strike/attack aircraft and
digital tactical reconnaissance platform. It became an icon in popular
culture with the 1986 motion picture "Top Gun," and later regular
appearances on the television series "JAG." Its sweeping wings and
muscle-plane design are recognized around the globe.
"The F-14 is one of the most storied aircraft in the Navy, and this is our
way to honorably retire an airframe that has served our country faithfully,"
said Lt. Mike Doxey, assistant class desk.
The Tomcat program started in January 1968 with Naval Air Systems Command's
decision to conceive a new air-to-air fighter aircraft. The aircraft moved
rapidly through development - completing first flight in December 1970. The
first production F-14A was delivered in May 1972, and two Tomcat squadrons
geared up in October 1972.
A significant improvement was made to the aircraft in November 1987 with the
upgrade to General Electric F110 engines. This modified aircraft was
designated the F-14B. The F-14D added a new state-of-the-art digital
avionics system, one of the most powerful and advanced digital processing
air-to-air radar systems at the time, as well as a high performance passive
Infrared Search and Track System.
In June 1996, the Tomcat successfully deployed its first Low Altitude
Navigation and Targeting Infrared and Night (LANTIRN) Squadron, VF-103. With
the LANTIRN pod, the Tomcat possessed an accurate autonomous designation and
targeting capability for delivery of laser-guided bombs. The system is
effective during day or night sorties and at high altitudes. Starting in
April 1997, all battle groups were equipped with LANTIRN capable F-14
The grand finale for the F-14's transformation has been the aircraft's
performance in Allied Force and Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi
Freedom. Tomcats have delivered precision-guided munitions over Belgrade,
Kabul, and Baghdad. VF-41 was the first Tomcat squadron to be awarded the
coveted McClusky Award as the best "attack" squadron in the Navy for its
outstanding performance during Allied Force. VF-102 won the McClusky Award
in 2002 for its performance over Afghanistan in Operation Enduring Freedom.
In 2003, Operation Iraqi Freedom saw the simultaneous deployment of all
three existing F-14D squadrons, and saw the F-14D's first release of a Joint
Direct Attack Munition in a combat environment. In late 2005, the Tomcat
also became the first Navy platform to be equipped with ROVER compatibility,
which allowed transmission of real-time streaming video to troops on the
Two Tomcat squadrons returned in March from a last deployment aboard the USS
Roosevelt. With an average service life of 15 years, the aging aircraft
proved itself among the best multi-mission aircraft ever built during
air-to-ground and close air support sorties while flying alongside the
Navy's F/A-18 Super Hornet, which the Navy has chosen as its successor. The
program's disestablishment caps three decades of continuous development and
improvement to the last.
"This success is part of our team's continuing contribution to the Navy-wide
goal of delivering the right force, with the right readiness, and at the
right cost," said Venlet, who oversees the efforts of PMA 241. "You'll see
much more of this as the Naval Aviation Enterprise continues to streamline
development and procurement of the systems we send forward to our fleet
The Naval Aviation Enterprise is a partnership among Naval leadership to
optimize processes that maintain current readiness while investing in future
readiness. The enterprise concept focuses Naval aviation on the single
fleet-driven metric of producing aircraft ready for tasking at reduced cost.
Gone but not forgotten..... so none of the VX squadrons will have any?
when i was at randolph afb over the summer i talked to one of the last guys who will be a back seater in the F-14. the last tomcat pilot has already gotten his wings
Tomcat was a cool plane, but it is dangerous to fly. When I was on deployment we lost 3 tomcats to mechanical failures. Good bird if it went back into production.
The VX squadrons gave up their Tomcats in 2004.
All hail the F-4!
Oh, you meant the F-14?
My local Air Museum got a F-14 for display from the Navy. It flew in a few weeks ago and the museum staff are getting it ready for display.
I have to call BS on the first sentence. I tested my girlfriend, she had no idea what an F-14 was and could not ID a picture I showed her, and she was able to accurately ID a picture of a 747.
Just throwing two photos around the office here, 100% of the people polled ID'd the 747, only 50% could ID the Tomcat.
That said, R.I.P. F-14 Tomcat, you will be missed...
I remember being on the line at NAS Millington in 75 and having my first upclose encounter with one. I was helping change an antenna on a P2 when a pair of them landed and taxied in. What an awesome plane! Davis-Monthan will be filling up again.
Cool site. Found these while looking around.