October 16, 2021

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The F-14 Tremendous Tomcat That Never ever Was

When Best Gun came out in 1986, the aviation-themed movie proved to be these as success in building fascination in naval aviation that the Grumman F-14 Tomcat became nearly as substantially a star of the film as Tom Cruise. It was not really the F-14’s significant-display screen debut, nonetheless, as a pair of F-14 plane had been featured in the 1980 science fiction war film The Final Countdown. 4 a lot more F-14s—from Fighter Squadron 84 (VF-84), nicknamed “Jolly Rogers”—also appeared in the 1996 action-journey Executive Conclusion.

The supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft experienced been developed for the United States navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) method and was the initial of the American “Teen Series” of beat plane that had been made to include the experience received towards MiG fighter for the duration of the Vietnam War.

The F-14 had absent through quite a few updates, with the F-14D Super Tomcat remaining the remaining variant. The to start with of these was shipped in 1991, and these showcased in depth modifications to the avionics and shows. The F-14D was noteworthy for being equipped to have interaction in multiple targets extra very easily than its predecessors. The aircraft was to be the definitive Tomcat and potentially would have been. But in 1989 soon after significant price tag overruns and big delays, then-Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney proved extra deadly than a Soviet fighter pilot. He shot down the obtain of any more F-14Ds—which most likely designed sense at the time as the Chilly War was coming to an conclude.

In its place, the Navy only gained 30-seven of the new F-14D Super Tomcats, while eighteen older F-14A styles have been up-to-date to the D-styles, selected as F-14D(R) for rebuild.

The Assault Tremendous Tomcat 21

Experienced issues performed out in a different way, an even much more innovative model of the Super Tomcat could have taken to the skies. Explained as an “Evolutionary” update of the F-14, the ST21 (Super Tomcat for the 21st Century) would have added a lot more fuel capacity and even an active electronically scanning array (AESA) radar that had been produced for the canceled A-12 attack aircraft.

The ST21 basically grew out of a prior proposal that experienced been designed by Northrup Grumman following the A-12 method was ended. It was to be called the Tomcat Swift Strike, which was intended to upgrade the current F-14s by supplying them with superior-close navigation and focusing on pods similar to the United States Air Forces’ LANTIRN technique, as effectively as upgraded floor attack modes for the F-14D’s APG-71 Radar. The newly improved plane could have had the ability to have additional standoff weaponry like the AGM-84E SLAM and AGM-88 Harm.

As Jalopnik.com noted, when that venture did not really transfer ahead, Northrup Grumman came back to the Navy with one more “Tremendous Tomcat,” dubbed the Tremendous Tomcat 21. 

“The Tremendous Tomcat 21 would be a modification of the initial F-14 style and it was to element GE-F110-129 motors that would make it possible for the Tomcat to tremendous-cruise (obtain Mach 1+ without the need of applying afterburner) consistently at Mach 1.3. Moreover, the jet would have an upgraded APG-71 radar, modified and enlarged control surfaces, and enlarged foremost-edge root extensions (LERX) that would home much more gas and enrich the jet’s small-speed handling abilities,” Jalopnik.com claimed.

People modifications would have provided Tomcat real tremendous-maneuverability, sustained speed and peppy acceleration. As with the Tomcat Speedy Strike, the new ST21 would have been equipped to carry targeting and navigation pods to provide it with legitimate multirole fighter capabilities.

The aircraft would have featured a single-piece windscreen for improved visibility, with a large-angle raster-scan HUD able that would have been able of projecting FLIR imagery and a Electronic Flight Management Program (DFCS).

Long run Enhancements

The ST21 was proposed as a reduce-price tag alternate to the Navy Sophisticated Tactical Fighter (NATF), but it could have been more. It would most likely have led to a host of even extra highly developed Tomcats, including an Assault Tremendous Tomcat (AST21), which could have highlighted nuclear weapons ability and bomb outlets less than the engine nacelles.

“The Tomcat’s greatest proposed configuration was recognized as the ‘ASF-14’ would be a new construct, very updated version of the famous F-14,” Jalopnik added. “A true ‘Super Tomcat’ in every perception of the phrase, the device would boast an even greater raise in inside gasoline in excess of the Super Tomcat 21 by using thicker wings, the gutting of cumbersome more mature era sub-devices and the use of carbon fiber structural parts to help save weight and quantity.”

On the other hand, none of it was to be. The Navy made a decision to fill the job of fighter/attack plane with the F/A-18E/F Tremendous Hornet, and the F-14 Tomcat was finally retired on September 22, 2006. The Tremendous Tomcat 21 instead remains one of the a lot more fascinating examples of what could have been.

Peter Suciu is a Michigan-centered writer who has contributed to additional than 4 dozen publications, newspapers and web sites. He often writes about armed forces smaller arms, and is the author of various guides on army headgear together with A Gallery of Navy Headdress, which is offered on Amazon.com.

Image: Flickr