Northrop Grumman F-14A Tomcat

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F-14A Tomcat

F-14 Photogallery

Development History

The F-14 Page

From Jane's Military Aircraft Update


SEPTEMBER 06, 1996f14-1.jpg (59536 bytes)









US Navy designation: F-14


Two-seat carrier-based interceptor with attack capability.


Won US Navy VFX fighter competition 15 January 1969; first flight of 12 development aircraft 21 December 1970; original programme was for 497 Tomcats including 12 development aircraft; programme since extended into 1990s.

Initial F-14A deployed with USN squadrons VF-1 and VF-2 October 1972; total 557 including 12 development aircraft, delivered to US Navy by April 1987, when production ended; final 102 aircraft (beginning 161597) delivered from FY83 powered by improved TF30-P-414A turbofans, having same rating as original 93 kN (20,900 lb st) TF30-P-412A. A total of 632 F-14s was built for the US Navy and 80 for the Iranian Air Force. The last new-production F-14 was delivered in July 1992.


F-14A: Initial and main version, supplied to US Navy and Iran. Total of 557 built (last aircraft 162711), ending 13 March 1987; 32 reworked to F-14B and 18 to F-14D(R); 385 remained in 1993. Retrofit with Tape 115B (later Tape 116) started May 1991 (see under Avionics) permitting conventional bombing. First two F-14A `Bombcat' squadrons, VF-14 and VF-32, began cruise on USS Kennedy, 7 October 1992.

F-14B: Known as F-14A(Plus) until 1 May 1991; second use of F-14B designation; interim improved version re-engined with GE F110-GE-400 turbofans pending introduction of F-14D (see below). Development began July 1984; Grumman prime contractor with General Electric as subcontractor. F110 has 82 per cent parts commonality with F110-GE-100 in USAF F-15s and F-16s; 1.27 m (4 ft 2 in) plug inserted in afterburner section to match engine to F-14A inlet position and airframe contours; only secondary structure requires modification; new engine allows unrestricted throttle handling throughout flight envelope and fewer compressor stalls. NASA scoops for Vulcan cannon; glove vanes eliminated; cockpit modified. Full-scale development used two aircraft, including (first use) F-14B prototype (157986), which made first flight with definitive F110-GE-400 engines 29 September 1986; one prototype was to be upgraded to full F-14D.

F-14B followed F-14A into production; first flight production F-14B (162910) 14 November 1987; 18, 15 and five funded in FY86-88; first delivery, to VF-101, 11 April 1988; IOC with two US Navy squadrons achieved early 1989; F-14B production deliveries (last aircraft 163411) completed May 1990. Additionally, 32 F-14As upgraded to F-14B. Further five to seven conversions funded ($143 million) in FY92; Grumman to build conversion kits, then compete with Norfolk naval depot for installation contract; FY93 funds of US$175 million for more conversions. B variant issued to VF-24, 74, 101, 103, 142, 143 and 211.

F-14B Upgrade: Total 196 aircraft (all extant F-14Bs plus balance in late production F-14As) retrofitted from FY94 (30 aircraft; then 25 per cent) with some F-14D features, including AN/ALR-67 RWR (to A models), BOL chaff dispenser, AN/AYK-14 mission computer (plus interface to analog 5400 computer), new tactical information display to permit addition of future weapon systems without re-wiring aircraft, MIL-STD-1553B digital databus, and airframe Time Compliance Requirements (TCRs) for 7,500 hour life.

F-14D Super Tomcat: Improved version with AN/APG-71 radar, NACES seats in NVG-compatible cockpits, twin IRST/TV pod (ordered January 1993 for installation before August 1996), JTIDS link (from 1993), AN/ALR-67 RWR (from 1993), plus enhanced missile capability (AIM-120 AMRAAM, AIM-54C Phoenix). Total 37 out of 127 planned new F-14Ds funded (seven, 12 and 18 in FY88-90) before programme cancelled as economy measure in 1989; plans continued to 400 F-14A and F-14B to be remanufactured to F-14D; six F-14D(R) conversions funded FY90; Grumman working on four conversions, USN at Norfolk NADEP on two; FY91-95 funding plans for 12, 18, 20, 24 and 24 all cancelled February 1991, but FY91 dozen restored April 1991 (Grumman eight, NADEP four); F-14D programme thus 37 new, 18 rebuilt. Last Grumman redelivery April 1993; last re-manufactured F-14D from NADEP Norfolk delivered to Miramar in May 1995. First flight of first of three development aircraft 24 November 1987; 36 months flight testing included a TA-3B Skywarrior. Prototype 161867 delivered trials squadron VX-4 at Point Mugu, California, May 1990; first production F-14D (163412) rolled out 23 March 1990; last (16404) delivered 20 July 1992. First F-14D(R) (161659) delivered September 1991; two production aircraft to NF-14D for permanent test use by VX-4 at Point Mugu, California. Training squadron, VF-124 (first user) October 1990; official acceptance 16 November 1990; first embarked squadrons, VF-11 and VF-31; VF-1 and VF-2 to convert from F-14A in 1993; all F-14D based at Miramar, California. Last F-14D(R) was due for redelivery in Spring 1993.

F-14MMCAP (Formerly F-14A++): MultiMission Capability Avionics Program; US Navy proposal, 1992, to upgrade 250 F-14As with improved avionics.

Future upgrades: F-14Ds and F-14A/B Upgrades provide USN with core force of 251 modernised Tomcats for which future planning includes digital flight control system from FY96; GPS from FY95 (to F-14Ds first); AN/ARC-210 radios from FY98; and improved mission recorders from FY99. Navy also considering further bombing upgrades (laser designator, FLIR and AN/ALE-50 towed decoy) to offset possible withdrawal of A-6 Intruder by 2000.

Other upgrades recently proposed are:

Quickstrike: Suggested first-stage development of F-14D for extended ground attack potential, providing F-15E Eagle-like capability to the fleet, including standoff weapons; potentially available (132-aircraft proposal) from 1994.

Super Tomcat-21: Company funded study for US Navy multirole fighter for next century as economic alternative to Navy version of USAF Advanced Tactical Fighter (ATF). Quickstrike improvements plus new slotted flaps, extended-chord leading-edge slats, enlarged wing glove fairings containing extra fuel, new frameless windscreen.

Attack Super Tomcat-21 (AST-21): Suggested interim replacement for A-12 Avenger II with low-level penetration capability and nuclear as well as conventional armament. Terrain-avoidance radar; two extra weapon stations.

ASF-14: Grumman proposal for alternative to Navalised ATF as F-14 evolutionary development including avionics, and possibly power plants, developed for ATF. Could be available by year 2000.


GEC-Marconi Avionics (GMAv): Awarded contract in early 1996 to supply its Digital Flight Control System (DFCS) for installation on 227 US Navy F-14 and Tomcat aircraft.

Grumman: F-14A/B, F-14D, F-14MMCAP, F-14 Quickstrike, F-14 Super Tomcat-21, F-14 Attack Super Tomcat-21 (AST-21) and F-14 ASF-14. See Versions.


Versions of the F-14 Tomcat are in service with the armed forces of Iran (25) and USA (383).


US$984 million fixed-price contract in July 1984 for development of F-14B and F-14D Super Tomcats.


Wing sweepback variable from 20 leading-edge to 68; oversweep of 75 used for carrier stowage without wing fold; wing pivot point 2.72 m (8 ft 11 in) from aircraft centreline; fixed glove has dihedral to minimise cross-sectional area and reduce wave drag; small canards on F-14A known as glove vanes extend forward progressively to 15 from inboard leading-edge to balance supersonic trim change and unload tail surfaces.


Lateral control by long-span spoilers, ahead of flaps, and tailerons; automatic leading-edge slats assist manoeuvring; strakes emerge from wing glove leading-edge at high airspeeds; automatic wing sweep has manual override; automatic scheduling of control with airspeed; autostabilisation and angle of attack protection; autopilot and Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS). Airbrake panel above and below tail, between fins. Twin fins and rudders.


Wing carry-through is one-piece electron beam-welded structure of Ti-6A1-4V titanium alloy with 6.71 m (22 ft) span. Fuselage has machined frames, titanium main longerons and light-alloy stressed skin; centre-fuselage is fuel-carrying box; radome hinges upwards for access to radar; fuel dump pipe at extreme tail; fins and rudders of light-alloy honeycomb sandwich; tailplanes have multiple spars, honeycomb trailing-edges and boron/epoxy composites skins.


Retractable tricycle type. Twin-wheel nose unit and single-wheel main units retract forward, main units inward into bottom of engine air intake trunks. Original beryllium brakes were replaced with Goodyear lightweight carbon brakes from Spring 1981. Arrester hook under rear fuselage, housed in small ventral fairing. Nose-tow catapult attachment on nose unit.


(F-14B/D): Two General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofans rated at 71.56 kN (16,088 lb st) dry and 120.1 kN (27,000 lb st) with afterburning. Garrett ATS200-50 air turbine starter. F110 engine has 43 per cent more reheated thrust and 37 per cent more military thrust (without afterburning) than TF30-P-414A in F-14A; results in 20 per cent more specific excess energy, 30 per cent lower specific fuel consumption in afterburner, 62 per cent greater deck launch intercept radius and 34 per cent more combat air patrol time; can be launched without afterburner; time to 10,670 m (35,000 ft) reduced by 61 per cent and acceleration time by 43 per cent. Integral fuel fanks in outer wings, each with capacity of 1,117 litres (295 US gallons; 246 Imp gallons); between engines in rear fuselage, with capacity of 2,453 litres (648 US gallons; 539 Imp gallons); and forward of wing carry-through structure, capacity 2,616 litres (691 US gallons; 575 Imp gallons); plus two feeder tanks with combined capacity of 1,726 litres (456 US gallons; 380 Imp gallons). Total internal fuel capacity 9,029 litres (2,385 US gallons; 1,986 Imp gallons). An external auxiliary fuel tank can be carried beneath each intake trunk, each containing 1,011 litres (267 US gallons; 222 Imp gallons). Retractable flight refuelling probe on starboard side of fuselage near front cockpit.


Pilot and naval flight officer seated in tandem on Martin-Baker NACES (or GRU7A in F-14A/B) rocket-assisted zero/zero ejection seats, under a one-piece bubble canopy, hinges at the rear and offering all-round view.


In F-14A, Hughes AN/AWG-9 weapons control system, with ability to detect airborne targets at ranges of more than 65 to 170 n miles (120 to 315 km; 75 to 195 miles) according to their size, and ability to track 24 enemy targets and attack six of them simultaneously at varied altitudes and distances. Fairchild AN/AWG-15F fire control set; CP-1066/A central air data computer; CP-1050/A computer signal data converter; AN/ASW-27B digital datalink; AN/APX-76(V) IFF interrogator; AN/APX-72 IFF transponder; AN/ASA-79 multiple display indicator group; Kaiser Aerospace AN/AVG-12 vertical and head-up display system. AN/ARC-51 and AN/ARC-159 UHF com; AN/ARR-69 UHF auxiliary receiver; KY-28 cryptographic system; LS-460/B intercom; AN/ASN-92(V) INS; A/A24G39 AHRS; AN/APN-154 beacon augmentor; AN/APN-194(V) radar altimeter; AN/ARA-63A receiver-decoder; AN/ARN-84 micro Tacan; AN/ARA-50 UHF ADF; AN/APR-27/50 radar receiver; AN/APR-25/45 radar warning set, TV optical unit in undernose pod. Northrop Corporation Television Camera Set (TCS) mounted beneath nose is closed-circuit TV system, offering both wide-angle (acquisition) and telescopic (identification) fields of view. TCS automatically searches for, acquires and locks on to distant targets, displaying them on monitors for the pilot and flight officer. Small undernose pod for Sanders AN/ALQ-100/126 deception jamming system, relocated under camera package of aircraft with Northrop TCS. During 1980 to 1981, 49 F-14As were allocated to carry TARPS (Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System), containing a KS-87B frame camera, KA-99 low-altitude panoramic camera, and AN/AAD-5 infra-red reconnaissance equipment, on underbelly attachment; by 1993 TARPS capability in 23 F-14As, 11 F-14Bs and 55 F-14Ds.

In F-14D, some 60 per cent of analogue avionics made digital, giving new weapons management, navigation, displays and control functions. MIL-STD-1553B digital bus interconnects Litton AN/ALR-67 threat warning and recognition system, Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), GE Aerospace Electronic Systems Infra-Red Search and Track sensor (IRST) and TCS; emphasis on commonality with F/A-18 and latest A-6. (Westinghouse/ITT AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self-Protection Jammer cancelled 1992.) New Hughes AN/APG-71 replaces AN/AWG-9 radar with improved ECM, monopulse angle tracking, digital scan control, target identification and raid assessment. AN/APG-71 features non-co-operative target identification, and ECCM using low-sidelobe antenna and sidelobe blanking guard channel, frequency agility, new high-speed digital signal processor based on AN/APG-70 radar in US Air Force multistaged improvement programme for F-15. Litton AN/ASN-139 INS; Smiths AN/AYQ-15 stores management system. ECM equipment includes Goodyear AN/ALE-29 and AN/ALE-39 chaff and flare dispensers, with integral jammers.

All in-service F-14A Tomcats given Tape 116 computer software addition in Summer 1992 to allow full ground attack with conventional bombs. F-14Ds of VF-11 and VF-31 have Tape G-6 software changes.


One General Electric M61A-1 Vulcan 20 mm gun mounted in the port side of forward fuselage, with 675 rounds of ammunition. Four AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles mounted partially submerged in the underfuselage, or four AIM-54 Phoenix missiles carried on special pallets which attach to the bottom of the fuselage. Two wing pylons, one under each fixed-wing section, can carry four AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles or two additional Sparrow or Phoenix missiles with two Sidewinders. F-14D has bombing capability; Rockeye and CBU-59 cluster bombs validated for F-14 December 1992; GBU-16 LGB and Gator mine to follow; AGM-88 HARM ARM and SLAM ASMs planned, but not yet funded.



Wing span: unswept 19.54 m (64 ft 1{1/2} in)

swept 11.65 m (38 ft 2{1/2} in)

overswept 10.15 m (33 ft 3{1/2} in)

Wing aspect ratio 7.28

Length overall 19.10 m (62 ft 8 in)

Height overall 4.88 m (16 ft 0 in)

Tailplane span 9.97 m (32 ft 8{1/2} in)

Distance between fin tips 3.25 m (10 ft 8 in)

Wheel track 5.00 m (16 ft 5 in)

Wheelbase 7.02 m (23 ft 0{1/2} in)


Wings, gross 52.49 m{2} (565.0 sq ft)

Leading-edge slats (total) 4.29 m{2} (46.2 sq ft)

Trailing-edge flaps (total) 9.87 m{2} (106.3 sq ft)

Spoilers (total) 1.97 m{2} (21.2 sq ft)

Fins (total) 7.90 m{2} (85.0 sq ft)

Rudders (total) 3.06 m{2} (33.0 sq ft)

Horizontal tail surfaces (total) 13.01 m{2} (140.0 sq ft)


AND LOADINGS (F-14D with F110-GE-400):

Weight empty 18,951 kg (41,780 lb)

Fuel (usable): internal 7,348 kg (16,200 lb)

external 1,724 kg (3,800 lb)

Max external weapon load 6,577 kg (14,500 lb)

T-O weight: fighter/escort mission 29,072 kg (64,093 lb)

fleet air defence mission 33,157 kg (73,098 lb)

max 33,724 kg (74,349 lb)

Max wing loading 642.5 kg/m{2} (131.59 lb/sq ft)

Max power loading 140.4 kg/kN (1.38 lb/lb st)


(F110 engines):

Max level speed Mach 1.88

Max cruising speed Mach 0.72

Carrier approach speed 125 kts (232 km/h; 144 mph)

Service ceiling above 16,150 m (53,000 ft)

Field T-O distance 762 m (2,500 ft)

Field landing distance 732 m (2,400 ft)

Field range with external fuel approx 1,600 n miles (2,965 km; 1,842 miles)


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