The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American teen-series fighters, which were designed incorporating air combat experience against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.
The F-14 first flew in December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissance platform into the 1990s.
The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system were added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions.
In the 1980s, F-14s were used as land-based interceptors by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force during the Iran–Iraq War, where they saw combat against Iraqi warplanes. Iranian F-14s reportedly shot down at least 160 Iraqi aircraft during the war, while only 12 to 16 Tomcats were lost; at least half of these losses were due to accidents.
The Tomcat was retired from the U.S. Navy’s active fleet on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-14 remains in service with the Iranian Air Force, having been exported to Iran in 1976. F-14s operated by the IRIAF have recently seen use against ISIL in the Middle East, and have been recorded escorting and accompanying Russian Air Force Tu-95 and Tu-160 strategic bombers on missions over Syria.
- Role Interceptor, air superiority and multirole combat aircraft
- National origin United States
- Manufacturer Grumman Aerospace Corporation
- First flight 21 December 1970
- Introduction 22 September 1974
- Retired 22 September 2006 (United States Navy)
- Status In service with the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
- Primary users United States Navy (historical)
- Imperial Iranian Air Force (historical)
- Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force
- Produced 1969–1991
- Number built 712
- Unit cost
- US$38 million (1998) ($19.2 million in 1977)