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Posted: 12/17/2005 9:58:20 AM EDT
from:www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/ap/world/3530056.html

Dec. 16, 2005, 2:15PM
Aging Tomcat Jet Makes Last Runs Over Iraq



By JIM KRANE Associated Press Writer
© 2005 The Associated Press

MANAMA, Bahrain — The Navy's F-14 Tomcat, a Cold War-era fighter jet emblazoned in the public's imagination as Tom Cruise's sleek ride in the movie "Top Gun," is beginning its final weeks of combat sorties over Iraq before being retired from the U.S. arsenal.




A pair of Navy squadrons with the last 22 operational Tomcats are flying bombing and strafing runs on insurgent targets in Iraq, jetting off the deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, which departs the Persian Gulf for its base in Virginia early next year.

By next fall, Navy pilots will have switched to the smaller, more reliable and easier to fly F-18 Hornet, said Cmdr. Jim Howe, deputy commander of the Roosevelt's F-14 squadrons.

"It's a bittersweet time for all the Tomcat people," Howe, 38, of Pittsburgh, told The Associated Press by telephone from aboard the Roosevelt. "The powers that be figured it was time to put it to rest."

Despite the dogfighting flash of the 1986 film, in real life the Tomcat _ a big two-seater with signature retractable wings _ was so tough to fly and maintain that it became known as the "turkey," Howe said.

The first squadron of Tomcats screamed across the skies in 1971 after rolling off Grumman's assembly line in Bethpage, N.Y.

The jets were considered a major coup in the U.S.-Soviet arms race, carrying up to six Phoenix air-to-air missiles that could be fired simultaneously and guided to six separate targets.

The Pentagon envisioned the F-14 defending carrier groups against fleets of Soviet bombers, said Rear Adm. John W. Miller, a former Tomcat radar operator who is deputy commander of Naval Forces Central Command in Bahrain.

"It was a phenomenal capability when it was developed," Miller said. "It's one of the planes that helped us win the Cold War."

Upon the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Tomcat's dogfighting prowess became an anachronism so the Navy retooled it as a ground-attack jet, with capabilities to drop guided bombs that were first used in the air war over Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s.

The Tomcat's wartime debut in April 1975 was a humble one: providing cover for the U.S. evacuation of Saigon just before the city fell to the North Vietnamese.

Six years later, a squadron flying near Libya's Mediterranean coast shot down a pair of SU-22 Fitter fighters after a Libyan pilot fired a missile at the U.S. jets _ and missed. The planes also downed a pair of Libyan MiG-23 fighters in 1989.

In the 1991 Gulf War, U.S. Tomcat pilots lost one plane to an Iraqi missile and shot down one helicopter, but the dogfights were over in three days, when the Iraqi air force was destroyed or fled.

Carrier-based F-14s then began enforcing a no-fly zone over southern Iraq and have flown over the country ever since.

The pair of squadrons on board the Roosevelt fly daily over Iraq, giving air cover to U.S. ground troops fighting insurgents in Baghdad and north of the capital, Howe said. But they haven't seen as much action as Air Force and Marine F-18s and AV-8 Harriers, which have been engaged in increasingly intense bombings of rebel positions in western Iraq.

Ironically, the last flying Tomcats may belong to Iran.

The United States sold 80 F-14s to Iran in 1974, while the country was a U.S. ally under the shah _ the only known export of the plane. During the 1980-88 Iran-Iraq war, Iranian Tomcats _ defending Iran's Islamic revolution _ downed three Iraqi fighter jets. Saddam Hussein's air force also was thought to have downed a handful of Iranian F-14s.

U.S. intelligence assessments say five or six of Iran's early model Tomcats can probably still fly but do so rarely, given the U.S. embargo on the Islamic Republic and the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement _ and parts the F-14s need, Howe said.

The Navy's Tomcat pilots will be retrained to fly two versions of the Hornet, the two-seat F-18F and the one-seat F-18E, Howe said. Most remaining F-14s eventually will be mothballed in the desert on Davis-Monthan Air Force Base near Tucson, Ariz.

The Tomcat isn't the oldest combat jet in the U.S. arsenal. The B-52 Stratofortress bomber, which entered service in 1954 and still blasts targets in Afghanistan, wins that honor.

___

On the Net:

www.anft.net/f-14

Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:14:44 AM EDT
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each...

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:17:18 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each...

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator



Damn if I know. I just post the News Articles. Since they are written by Reporters, Expect Inaccuracies.

I like the Tom Cat, but like everything else, it's time has come.

Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:19:08 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each...

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator



Okay I'm sure some mechs are gonna chime in any second! And dont forget the airframers...

Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:27:26 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2005 10:30:07 AM EDT by xanadu]

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each..

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator



I believe that is probably the Intell estimates for the Iranian forces maint. , not the US ones.
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:33:50 AM EDT
Man hours is correct. I have no idea if that is correct for the F14, it does sound a little high, but we are talking about the Military here, so it wouldn't surprise me.
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:37:16 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:49:44 AM EDT
Oh Dupetree, Oh Dupetree...

We wish you a merry Dupe,
We wish you a merry Dupe..

It came upon a midnight Dupe....

Jingle Dupe, Jingle Dupe....

I'm dreaming of a Dupe.....

Dupe, roasting over an open fire....



Posted by KA3B :: 12/17/2005 8:10:00 AM PST
www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=419037
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 10:54:55 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each...

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator




Well, no. It includes stuff removed and sent to the back shops to be repaired. Additionally includes factors like frequency-of-repair, cannibalization, parts availability, model specific servicing, and so forth.
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 11:04:07 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each...

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator




Naval aviation maintenance is recorded via NALCOMIS (or electronic VIDS/MAF for us oldtimers).

Everytime an aircraft has a gripe written up the life of the gripe is recorded (from iniation to sign-off), the actual maintenance time (man hours) spent fixing it is recorded and the actual time the gripe was in maintenance (maintenance life span).

Maintenance hours vs flight hours are made up of the actual man-hours spent fixing an aircraft, and the time that the I-Level techs fix the components.

Supply time, awaiting maintenance time, shop clean-up time and general administrative time is not counted.

Add into that the regular inspections that are required, pre, post and turn-around, which can take up to 5 or more hours to complete that are not recorded in NALCOMIS, plus the squadron support man hours spent cooking food, cleaning toilets, losing paperwork and it could become more like 100+ hours for every flight hour.
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 11:09:24 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Bostonterrier97:
Damn if I know. I just post the News Articles. Since they are written by Reporters, Expect Inaccuracies.

I like the battleship, but like everything else, it's time has come.




Link Posted: 12/17/2005 11:52:26 AM EDT
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 11:54:30 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/17/2005 11:54:54 AM EDT by npd233]

Originally Posted By KA3B:

Posted by KA3B :: 12/17/2005 8:10:00 AM PST
www.ar15.com/forums/topic.html?b=1&f=5&t=419037



But this one has a picture
Link Posted: 12/17/2005 12:02:35 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Troy:

Originally Posted By Powelligator:
And I quote:

"the prodigious maintenance _ 40 hours in the shop for each hour in the air, four times that needed by its F-18 replacement"

What kind of statistic is that? The writer can't possibly mean that if a plane goes out on a two hour combat sortie the plane has to sit in a hanger for a couple weeks. Is that "man-hours" to fix stuff? That would mean four guys working 10 hours each and the plane is ready. Or 8 guys working 5 hours each...

I hate statisics like that. Rant Mode = OFF.

-Gator



Yes, that is man-hours-of-labor-per-flight-hour,-averaged. But it is a very telling statistic, because the Navy will be able to cut half of the maintenance guys and still turn (F-18) jets around twice as fast.

-Troy



Geez, if it was Corporate America, we could be out sourcing or off shoring to India for the labor. lol

Link Posted: 12/17/2005 2:40:28 PM EDT

Originally Posted By mmx1:

Originally Posted By Bostonterrier97:
Damn if I know. I just post the News Articles. Since they are written by Reporters, Expect Inaccuracies.

I like the battleship, but like everything else, it's time has come.









Good One!

Link Posted: 12/17/2005 8:59:58 PM EDT
At least they're going out fighting.


-K
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 6:16:27 PM EDT
And the F-15 is still being produced, purchased, and will be shooting down/bombing for years to come!!

Yes I was an Eaglekeeper!
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 6:24:53 PM EDT
They should turn those aging jets into guided target or decoy drones. Our pilots need practice and we can spoof enemy defenses. It looks real on radar, looks real to the eye, looks real in infra-red... because it is real!
Link Posted: 12/19/2005 6:25:34 PM EDT
LAST CAT STANDING, BABY!
Link Posted: 12/25/2005 1:38:59 PM EDT

Originally Posted By KlubMarcus:
They should turn those aging jets into guided target or decoy drones. Our pilots need practice and we can spoof enemy defenses. It looks real on radar, looks real to the eye, looks real in infra-red... because it is real!



I say, give them to India or Taiwan......better balance against China.
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