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Posted: 2/8/2006 7:43:34 PM EDT


The end of an era

By JO2 Stephen Murphy and LI2 Karen M. James

www.tr.surfor.navy.mil/News_Stories_html/NEWS_Story141.htm

A chapter in naval aviation history will draw to a close aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) tonight with the last combat mission recovery of an F-14 Tomcat.

The event marks one of the final stages of the Navy’s process of transitioning from the F-14 Tomcat to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet.

From its initial combat air patrol mission during the 1975 U.S. Embassy evacuation in Vietnam, to its current mission of supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom and Maritime Security Operations in the Arabian Gulf with Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8’s Fighter Squadrons (VF) 31 and 213, the F-14 Tomcat has played a vital role with the Navy for more than 32 years.

“In my heart, I hate to see it go,” said Aviation Master Chief (AW) Joe Seabolt, Fighter Squadron (VF) 213. For Seabolt, this is not only the end of an era for the Navy, but the end of a 24-year period of his life he devoted to maintaining F-14s.

“This is all I know,” Seabolt said. This is all a lot of us know. It’s been the premier aircraft for the last 30-plus years. It’s beautiful, it’s big, it commands presence, and I’ve always had a fondness for it.”

The Tomcat entered operational service with Navy fighter squadrons VF-1 Wolfpack and VF-2 Bounty Hunters onboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) in September 1974. The F-14’s purpose was to serve as a fighter interceptor and it eventually replaced the F-4 Phantom II Fighter which was phased out in 1986.

The first real combat test for the F-14 was in August 1981. While flying combat air patrol outside of Libya, two F-14As of VF-41 were approached by two Libyan Sukhoi SU-22. The lead Su pilot fired an air-to-air missile at the F-14s; the F-14 pilots engaged and destroyed both SUs.

In 1985, F-14s were called upon in response to the hijacking of the Achille Lauro, an Italian cruise liner. Terrorists from the Palestine Liberation Organization tried to escape the area on a Boeing-737 airliner. Tomcats from VF-74 and VF-103 were launched from USS Saratoga (CV 60) to intercept the 737. The terrorists, realizing they were no match for the Tomcat’s air-to-air attack capabilities, decided to allow the airliner to safely land in Sigonella, Sicily.

The Tomcat was once again challenged by Libya in 1989, when two Libyan MiG-23 Floggers engaged two VF-32 F-14As from USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67) that were flying Combat Air Patrol missions close to the Libyan coast. The MiG-23s were determined hostile and the eight-minute engagement resulted in the downing of both Floggers.

During its first 17 years of operational service in the Navy, the Tomcat played a vital role as an interceptor with its air-to-air capabilities. However, during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, where there was more need for air-to-ground abilities, the need for the Tomcat’s air to air capabilities diminished. Because the U.S.-led coalition was able to sweep and clean the skies of Iraqi aircraft, many F-14s were without a major role for most of the conflict.

Despite its many upgrades over the years, from the F14A, to the F-14B, and finally the F-14D with its powerful F110-GE-400 engines and more sophisticated weaponry and surveillance equipment, it appeared the Tomcat’s days were almost over. However, this state of uncertainty wouldn’t last for long. Shortly following the Persian Gulf War, Navy leaders decided to devise removable bomb racks for the Tomcat’s to allow them to carry MK-80 “dumb” bombs. The Tomcat’s were also given the Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) targeting system to allow for delivery of laser-guided bombs. With its new upgrades the Tomcat’s were soon dubbed as the “Bombcats.”

During the proceeding years the F-14s took on a new, more effective role as a fighter-bomber. In Operation Deliberate Force in Bosnia, the Tomcats delivered laser-guided bombs while other aircraft painted the targets with lasers. The Navy was credited with 30 percent of the kills against forces in Kosovo as a result of the bombing performance of the Tomcat. The F-14 also demonstrated its ground attack capabilities in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2002, VF-14 led the first long-range tactical air strike, flying more than 1,700 miles round trip to Mazar-e Sharif, destroying Taliban aircraft on the ground. During Operation Iraqi Freedom the Tomcats are living up to their ‘Bombcat’ nickname with their air-to-ground missions which continue to save the lives of coalition ground forces each day.

“I will never forget flying a ‘Show of Force’ over a city in Iraq where our troops were taking fire from insurgents,” said Lt. Cmdr. Gregory Knepper, a pilot for VF-31. “After making a high speed/low altitude pass over the shoot-out, the insurgents fled and hopefully we saved the lives of some of our soldiers. The Tomcat has been a phenomenal part of Naval Aviation. It will be sad to see such a storied fighter decommissioned.”

The Tomcat has been celebrated throughout its 32-plus years, but just like a senior Sailor retiring to make way for a new up and coming junior Sailor, it is time for the Tomcat to retire and make way for the Hornet.

“I don’t think there is anything better than a Tomcat, but it’s probably a good time for it to go away,” said Senior Chief Aviation Machinist’s Mate (AW) Gene Casterlin, VF-31. “The Navy is getting smaller and more efficient, and it will only get harder to maintain the Tomcat. But no matter what, the Tomcat is the sexiest airplane in the sky.”
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:45:37 PM EDT
:(
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:47:15 PM EDT

Originally Posted By go3:
:(





Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:47:28 PM EDT
Maintenance nightmare, they belong on pedestals.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:47:58 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:48:04 PM EDT
The Iranians have some don't they?
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:49:25 PM EDT




Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:50:48 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:51:03 PM EDT


Link Posted: 2/8/2006 7:51:34 PM EDT
Maverick and Goose are collectively weeping with Iceman on this tragic night....
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:12:45 PM EDT



My great uncle worked on the F-14 project at Grumman.

I told my mom that the F-14 was on its last cruise, and she almost started to cry.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:13:31 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:22:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By roboman:
Maverick and Goose are collectively weeping with Iceman on this tragic night....



Yup. Top Gun II is going to star Super Hornets.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:25:57 PM EDT
Like its predecessors the F4, A7, etc, the F14 flies to the boneyard.


It had a good 30 years.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:27:49 PM EDT
The F14s did yeoman's duty for the USA. It's airframe is worn out with many hours of flight time over it design limit, and it's electronics is outdated. It is time to retire the F14 and bring on newer, more sophisticated aircraft. The USA got more than its money's worth from the F14.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:46:02 PM EDT
So when can I buy one of those "worn out" ones.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:47:52 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:53:18 PM EDT


Link Posted: 2/8/2006 10:58:46 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 11:03:45 PM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By warlord:
The F14s did yeoman's duty for the USA. It's airframe is worn out with many hours of flight time over it design limit, and it's electronics is outdated. It is time to retire the F14 and bring on newer, more sophisticated aircraft. The USA got more than its money's worth from the F14.




Agreed, but the F/A SuperHornet is not fundementally a much newer design and as for 'more sophisticated'?


ANdy



I still want a Navy version of the F-22, damnit.
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 11:17:49 PM EDT


WIth DFD doing the guitar solos, let's do the song one last time:

Top Gun

Artist: Kenny Loggins
Song: Danger Zone

Revvin' up your engine
Listen to her howlin' roar
Metal under tension
Beggin' you to touch and go

Highway to the Danger Zone
Ride into the Danger Zone

Headin' into twilight
Spreadin' out her wings tonight
She got you jumpin' off the track
And shovin' into overdrive

Highway to the Danger Zone
I'll take you
Right into the Danger Zone

You'll never say hello to you
Until you get it on the red line overload
You'll never know what you can do
Until you get it up as high as you can go

Out along the edges
Always where I burn to be
The further on the edge
The hotter the intensity

Highway to the Danger Zone
Gonna take you
Right into the Danger Zone

Highway to the Danger Zone
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 11:22:50 PM EDT
Link Posted: 2/8/2006 11:22:58 PM EDT
I'll have to dig out his bio, but I met a very interesting man through my mother in law, who went to school with a guy who was on (and I'm going from memory so don't crucify me if I get it wrong) the USS Carl Vincent, and was a Navy pilot involved with the testing and adoption of the F-14 Tomcat in the early 70's. He later became XO of that ship, IIRC.

He told me he loved the Tomcat, and hated to see it retired.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:20:10 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 12:27:29 AM EDT by Colt_SBR]






_____________________________




Link Posted: 2/9/2006 1:55:30 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 2:29:08 AM EDT by vito113]
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 2:27:22 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By Spade:

Originally Posted By vito113:

Originally Posted By warlord:
The F14s did yeoman's duty for the USA. It's airframe is worn out with many hours of flight time over it design limit, and it's electronics is outdated. It is time to retire the F14 and bring on newer, more sophisticated aircraft. The USA got more than its money's worth from the F14.




Agreed, but the F/A SuperHornet is not fundementally a much newer design and as for 'more sophisticated'?


ANdy



I still want a Navy version of the F-22, damnit.




The Navy NEEDS a state of the art dedicated air superiority fighter, and no F18 is that, no matter how many fancy names you hang on it. Even the USN admits the F18's performance is marginal at best against the latest Russ/EU stuff.

ANdy



But thats going to change isn't it?

But I suppose even if we do field a new carrier based fighter, it will take a while to show up in any numbers in the fleet.

Link Posted: 2/9/2006 2:30:04 AM EDT
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 8:43:44 AM EDT

Originally Posted By vito113:


I wonder if Goatboy will change those to SuperHornets now?


ANdy



If he does, hope he keeps the Tomcats too.

______________________


Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:07:41 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 12:34:11 PM EDT by LWilde]
Grumman built the greatest naval fighters of all time.

Wildcat

Hellcat

Tigerca­t

Bearcat

Panther

Cougar­

Tiger

Tomcat

The prop planes were typically Grumman fugly...but the jets...Oh MY they were pretty planes.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:11:28 AM EDT
Bummer. I loved the Turkey.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:15:27 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 9:16:00 AM EDT by _DR]
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:22:45 AM EDT
I have this poster in my bedroom, framed and matted.

Tomcat F14A
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:36:23 AM EDT
Sad to see her go...

Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:39:23 AM EDT
very sad

Question is, can I pick up one cheap?
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:43:23 AM EDT
IBTLTFO(in before the last Tomcat fly off)
Will this "last" Tomcat this or that crap ever end?
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 9:56:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 10:08:02 AM EDT by ANGST]





Link Posted: 2/9/2006 11:33:54 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 11:34:25 AM EDT by Manic_Moran]
Turkey-lovers need not lament too soon. The subject line of this thread is not factually correct. F-14s will be flying front-line service for a few years yet.



(I always did like that colour scheme, wonder who makes a model kit with those decals?)

NTM
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:30:04 PM EDT
Awww geeze, that song and Kenny Loggins are totaly fucking ghey!
They should have gone with "Dreams" by Van Halen like they originaly wanted to, not some fag disco song.



Originally Posted By GiggleSmith:


WIth DFD doing the guitar solos, let's do the song one last time:

Top Gun

<snippage to get rid of the fag shit>

Highway to the Danger Zone

Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:32:02 PM EDT

Originally Posted By dport:
IBTLTFO(in before the last Tomcat fly off)
Will this "last" Tomcat this or that crap ever end?



No, so quit your bitching!!
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:33:31 PM EDT
The tomcats wont die, the old dog lovers of technology here on ARFCOM will make sure the dead plane/ no further use for it will live on forever!

Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:38:29 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Turkey-lovers need not lament too soon. The subject line of this thread is not factually correct. F-14s will be flying front-line service for a few years yet.

www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/fighter/f14/f14_16.jpg

(I always did like that colour scheme, wonder who makes a model kit with those decals?)

NTM

Iran only bought 80 of them, and we havent sold them spare parts for ages. They might have ~5 that are still flight worthy (by scavenging parts from the other 75), but then their avionics are also that old. One F-22 and they'd all be down for the count.

Kharn
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:41:27 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Sachse:
The Iranians have some don't they?



I don't think they have any operational ones, lack of parts from the supplier and all.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:42:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Turkey-lovers need not lament too soon. The subject line of this thread is not factually correct. F-14s will be flying front-line service for a few years yet.

www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/fighter/f14/f14_16.jpg

(I always did like that colour scheme, wonder who makes a model kit with those decals?)

NTM


There are companies that make aftermarket decal sets.
Another option would be to buy decal paper, and print your own.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:44:07 PM EDT

Originally Posted By TxLewis:

Originally Posted By Sachse:
The Iranians have some don't they?



I don't think they have any operational ones, lack of parts from the supplier and all.



The Soviet Union and now the Russians have been helping them get F-14 parts and weapons for years...
The Russians are supposed to be reengineering the F-14 for the Iranians.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:44:32 PM EDT
It was inevitable, but no less sad that the day has come.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:44:42 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Kharn:

Originally Posted By Manic_Moran:
Turkey-lovers need not lament too soon. The subject line of this thread is not factually correct. F-14s will be flying front-line service for a few years yet.

www.aerospaceweb.org/aircraft/fighter/f14/f14_16.jpg

(I always did like that colour scheme, wonder who makes a model kit with those decals?)

NTM

Iran only bought 80 of them, and we havent sold them spare parts for ages. They might have ~5 that are still flight worthy (by scavenging parts from the other 75), but then their avionics are also that old. One F-22 and they'd all be down for the count.

Kharn



I saw a recent video from Iran (a May Day type thing).
Showed four or five F-14s flying, along with older Russian stuff.
These may fly, but I doubt they can engage.
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 12:56:14 PM EDT

Originally Posted By LWilde:
Grumman built the greatest naval fighters of all time.

Wildcat

Hellcat

Tigerca­t

Bearcat

Panther

Cougar­

Tiger

Tomcat

The prop planes were typically Grumman fugly...but the jets...Oh MY they were pretty planes.



Agreed.

What was the Tiger?
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 1:03:09 PM EDT
[Last Edit: 2/9/2006 1:07:13 PM EDT by FITTER]

Originally Posted By LARRYG:

Originally Posted By LWilde:
Grumman built the greatest naval fighters of all time.

Wildcat

Hellcat

Tigerca­t

Bearcat

Panther

Cougar­

Tiger

Tomcat

The prop planes were typically Grumman fugly...but the jets...Oh MY they were pretty planes.



Agreed.

What was the Tiger?



F11F

What about the A-6? Nothing pretty about that one!
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 1:10:08 PM EDT
What happens to "Goose" the back seat guy? Where does he transition to?
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 1:11:42 PM EDT
The Iranians have tended to use them as Mini-AWACS. The AIM-54 missiles are of questionable reliability these days, what they've done instead is to modify SAMs to work as AAMs. There's a picture going around somewhere of an F-14 carrying HAWKs.

Current bests guesses are that of the 60 or so airframes they have left after accidents/combat losses, they have about a squadron left in combat condition.

NTM
Link Posted: 2/9/2006 2:24:43 PM EDT
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