Grumman F-14 Tomcat
From Scramble - The Aviation Magazine
|Grumman F-14D Tomcat|
|Role||Air Defence Fighter|
|First Flight||December 21st, 1970 (YF-14A)|
|Entered Service||September 1974 (with VF-1)|
|Length||19.1 m||62 ft 9 in|
|Wingspan (swept)||11.58 m||38 ft|
|Wingspan (unswept)||19.5 m||64 ft|
|Height||4.88 m||16 ft|
|Wing area||54.5 m²||565 ft²|
|Empty||19,838 kg||43,735 lb|
|Loaded||27,700 kg||61,000 lb|
|Maximum takeoff weight||33,720 kg||74,350 lb|
|Engines||two General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofan engines|
|Thrust||61.4 kN (each)||13,810 lbf (each)|
|Maximum speed||Mach 2.35|
|Operational range||926 km||500 nmiles|
|Rate of climb||229 m/min||45,000 ft/min|
|Armament||One General Dynamics (General Electric) M61 Vulcan 20 mm gun plus mix of AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-7 Sparrow, AIM-54 Phoenix AAMs|
After failure to develop the F-111B in the TFX program as a fleet defence fighter to replace the F-4B/N/S Phantom II, the F-14 Tomcat was developed in the consequent VFX program. From the initial model 303-60, Grumman developed fixed wing and swept wing designs, showing first resemblance to what became the Tomcat. Ultimately, model 303E was developed into the Grumman F-14 Tomcat. The Tomcat was designed around the Hughes AN/AWG-9 radar and associated long range AIM-54 Phoenix missiles and features swing-wings. The F-14 served the US Navy for 32 years and was officially retired on September 22, 2006 at Naval Air Station Oceana.
Initial model, with Hughes AN/AWG-9 radar and troublesome TF30-P-412A turbofan engines (replaced during 1983 with more reliable TF30-P-414, later TF30-P-414A turbofan engines. The TF30 proved prone to compressor stalls and throttle changes above 30,000 ft. Main weapon was the Raytheon (Hughes) AIM-54 Phoenix radar guided air-to-air missiles. The theoretically maximum of six Phoenix missiles were seldom carried, as the Tomcat could only land on a carrier with four of these missiles. The F-14A(TARPS) is wired for a recce pod with AN/AAD-5 IRLS and optical cameras. Main upgrade was the F-14A+, which finally introduced proper and much more powerful engines, the F110-GE-400 turbofan. Redesignated F-14B. The JF−14A Tomcat Special Test Aircraft was used for TF30-P-414 development.
The F-14B designation was used twice by the US Navy. In 1973, it was used to identify a F-14A successor powered by F401-PW-400 engines. The development was discontinued. The second time, the designation was usd to identify F-14A+ models, redesignated F-14B on 1 May 1991. Existing airframes were fitted with with F110-GE-400 turbofan engines (129 kN augmented thrust), AN/ALR-67 and AN/AWG-15F FCS. In total, 38 new aircraft were built and 48 F-14As were upgraded.
Proposal put forward by Grumman in 1973, with improved avionics. Cancelled.
Ultimate Tomcat variant based on the F-14B powered by F110-GE-400 turbofan engines, with new AN/APG-71 radar, AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles and air-to-ground avionics and weapons (AGM-88 HARM), AN/ALQ-165 Advanced Self Protection Jammer, NVG. Upgraded F-14A's are designated F-14D(R), while the NF-14D is a flying test bed for weapons development. In June 1996 the US Navy upgraded the Tomcat with the AN/AAQ-14 targeting pod as the Block I upgrade. Also, the Tomcat was also upgraded with NVG compatibility, and improved defensive countermeasures through the LAU-138 BOL chaff-dispensing launch rail, which replaced the LAU-7 Sidewinder launch rail, retaining the ability to launch the AIM-9 Sidewinder and adding a significant increase in chaff expendable stores. Modified F-14D Tomcats were nicknamed Bombcats. The final operational carrier launch was on July 28th 2006 (F-14D 163417 of VF-31 Tomcatters).
In August 1973, Congress mandated that the US Navy to pursue a lower-cost alternative to the F-14. Grumman proposed a stripped F-14 designated the F-14X, while McDonnell Douglas proposed a navalized F-15, but both were nearly as expensive as the F-14. Eventually, the Department of Defense ordered the US Navy to evaluate the competitors in the Air Force's Lightweight Fighter (LWF) program, eventually leading to the development of the F/A-18 Hornet.
Grumman model designators
During the period 1966-67 while trying to trim (although carve would be more appropriate) weight from the F-111B, the US Navy was also providing funding to Grumman to look into advanced fighter studies. By 1967 this had led Grumman to suggest taking the VFAX airframe and wrapping it around the F-111B engines and AN/AWG-9/Phoenix weapons system. The extensive use of titanium would be one way of lightening up the airframe and moving away from the weight issues that beset the F-111B, and the new airframe would meet the air superiority requirements that were emerging from the future fighter studies. Liking what they saw, the US Navy funded another round of studies, Navy Fighter Study II, between Feb-Mar 1968. During this study they compared, on paper, a proposed VFX (Grumman design 303-60) vs the F-111B and without question, the F-111B was smoked. The twin engined, single tailed VFX would out accelerate, climb and turn the F-111B and the F-4 Phantom II by significant margins.
Nacelle Modification of 303-60 with podded engines and high placed variable sweep-wing.
Design 303-60 updated for configuration comparison with podded engines and high placed variable sweep-wing.
Submerged engines, high placed variable sweep-wing.
Submerged Engines, low placed variable sweep-wing.
The winning F-14 design, podded engines, high placed variable sweep-wing.
Submerged engines, high placed fixed wing.
F-14B Tomcat at Nellis AFB Air Show 2004