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F-14 Tomcat

The F-14 Tomcat is the US Navy's carrier-based two-seat air defence, intercept, strike and reconnaissance aircraft. The aircraft was developed by Northrop Grumman to replace the F-4 Phantom fighter and entered service with the US Navy in 1972. In 1987 the F-14B with an upgraded engine went into production. Further upgrades in the radar, avionics and missile capability resulted in the F-14D Super Tomcat which first flew in 1988. The US Navy currently operates 338 F-14 aircraft of all three variants. The aircraft continues to receive phased improvements and is due to remain in service until 2007. The variable sweep wing and the twin almost upright tail fins of the F-14 Tomcat give the aircraft its distinctive appearance. The variable sweep wings are set at 20 degrees for take-off,
loitering and landing, and automaticallychange to a maximum sweep of 68 degrees which reduces drag for high subsonic to supersonic speeds. The wings are swept at 75 degrees for aircraft carrier stowage.

Weapons

The F-14 is armed with a General Electric Vulcan M61A-1 20 mm gun with 675 rounds of ammunition, which is mounted internally in the forward section of the fuselage on the port side. The aircraft has eight hardpoints for
carrying ordnance, four on the fuselage, and two each side under the fixed section of the wings. The aircraft can carry the short, medium and long-range air-to-air missiles AIM-9, AIM-7 and AIM-54, and air-to-ground ordnance including the Rockeye bomb and CBU cluster bombs. Raytheon AIM-7 Sparrow is a medium-
range radar-guided air-to-air missile with range of 45 km. Lockheed Martin/Raytheon AIM-9 Sidewinder is a short-range air-to-air missile with range of 8 km. Raytheon AIM-54 Phoenix is a long-range air-to-air missile with range of 150 km. The F-14 can carry up to 6 Phoenix missiles and is capable of firing the missiles almost simultaneously at six different targets. In 1995 the US Navy installed the Lockheed Martin LANTIRN precision strike navigation and targeting pod on the F-14. The LANTIRN targeting pod includes a dual field of view FLIR and a laser designator/rangefinder.
The navigation pod also contains a FLIR and terrain-following radar. A Lockheed Martin infra-red search and track system is installed in a sensor pod under the nose.