F-14 Tomcat


Join us on this HDV quality DVD with Naval Carrier Aviation!
Featuring close-up deck landings, noisy catapult shots, night flying, parts of a briefing below decks, the final wave of Tomcats leaving for shore and a high speed F14 Tomcat pass.

1 DVD - Total playing time 70 minutes.


(Quality downsized for reducing downloadtime)

A long, storied chapter in naval aviation history came to a close July 28 2006 with the final aircraft carrier flight operations for F-14 Tomcat fighter jets that have spent more than 32 years in the fleet but are now retiring and making room for F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The final aircraft carrier operational launch for Tomcats happened aboard the Norfolk-based Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) when aircraft No. 112 from the “Tomcatters” of Fighter Squadron (VF) 31, piloted by Lt. Blake Coleman and Radar Intercept Officer Lt. Cmdr. Dave Lauderbaugh, made its way down catapult No. 3 at 4:42 p.m.

“Bittersweet is a perfect term for this,” said Tomcatters' Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Jim Howe. “As a career F-14 pilot, I would be much happier flying the Tomcat until the end of my days in the Navy. But instead we have to enjoy this as long as we can.”

The Navy’s transition from the F-14D Tomcat fighter jet to the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, a strike-fighter aircraft, is all but complete, as Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8’s Tomcatters now make up the final F-14 squadron.

The Tomcat entered operational service in September 1974. The F-14’s purpose was to serve as a fighter interceptor, eventually replacing the F-4 Phantom II Fighter, which was completely phased-out in 1986. 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.

(c) André Jans - www.fencecheck.com 

Despite its many upgrades over the years, from the F-14A, to the F-14B, and finally the F-14D with its powerful GE F110 engines and more sophisticated weaponry and surveillance equipment, it appeared the Tomcat’s days were fading fast.

However, following the Persian Gulf War, Navy leaders decided to devise removable bomb racks for Tomcats to allow them to carry MK-80 “dumb” bombs. The Tomcats 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 “Bombcats.”

As part of the final transition, F-14 pilots and maintainers will take on any necessary additional training and learn the ins and outs of Super Hornets, which Howe said is a much easier aircraft to work with.

“One of the reasons the Tomcat is going away is because it’s so hard to fix,” Howe said. “I’m happy for my young maintenance guys, because they’ve worked their tails off and they can fix just about anything. So, this transition to the Super Hornet, because that particular aircraft is so much easier to maintain, will be an easy one for them.”

Dating back to its initial combat missions during Vietnam and spanning to its most recent combat missions in the Persian Gulf, the F-14 Tomcat has played a vital role in naval aviation.

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

Although its dogfighting superiority had already been made clear through simulated training missions, the F-14 was first tested in combat operations in August 1981. While on patrol outside Libya, two F-14As were fired upon by two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22s (see a preview of a Su-22 on the Poland 2003 DVD here). The Tomcat pilots safely manoeuvred from a defensive position to an offensive one before engaging and destroying both SUs.

Four years later in 1985, F-14s were called upon in response to the hijacking of an Italian cruise ship. The terrorists, who were from the Palestine Liberation Organization, attempted to make an escape after going ashore and boarding a Boeing-737 commercial 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, allowed the airliner to safely land in Sigonella, Sicily.

In 1989, the Tomcat was once again challenged by Libya when two MiG-23 Floggers engaged two F-14As from VF-32 that were flying combat air patrol missions from aboard USS John F. Kennedy (CV 67). 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.

Despite its many upgrades over the years, from the F-14A, to the F-14B, and finally the F-14D with its powerful GE F110 engines and more sophisticated weaponry and surveillance equipment, it appeared the Tomcat’s days were fading fast.

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 Tomcats to allow them to carry MK-80 “dumb” bombs. The Tomcats 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 “Bombcats.”

“This aircraft has done a lot for naval aviation history,” said Senior Chief Aviation Structural Mechanic (AW) Fred Parker. “It’s obviously been through, and played a vital role in, many wars and evolutions.”

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 lived up to their “Bombcat” nickname with their air-to-ground missions, continuing to save the lives of coalition ground forces.

“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 leading the way in naval aviation for some time now, 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 Super Hornet.

“A lot of the guys in the squadron have been upbeat and we’ve been having a great time, but this is bittersweet,” said Lt. Chris Rattigan, a pilot for VF-31 who piloted the final arrested landing today. “Now we’ll transition to the F/A-18E, which is a single-seat version of the Super Hornet. It’s okay though. I’m just glad to have gotten the chance to be a part of this aircraft. It’s been a lot of fun. This is something I’ve always wanted to do growing up, and I was lucky enough to be able to do it.”

source www.navytimes.com - www.news.navy.mil

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