The F-14 Tomcat is a supersonic, twin-engine, variable sweep wing, two-place fighter designed to attack and destroy enemy aircraft at night and in all weather conditions. The F-14 can track up to 24 targets simultaneously with its advanced weapons control
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The Tomcat is a 2-seat, twin-engine fighter with twin tails and variable-geometry wings. Its general arrangement consists of a long nacelle containing the large nose radar and 2 crew positions extending well forward and above the widely spaced engines. The engines are parallel to a central structure that flattens towards the tail; butterfly-shaped airbrakes are located between the fins on the upper and lower surfaces. Altogether, the fuselage forms more than half of the total aerodynamic lifting surface.
The wings are shoulder-mounted and are programmed for automatic sweep during flight, with a manual override provided. The twin, swept fin-and-rudder vertical surfaces are mounted on the engine housings and canted outward. The wing pivot carry- through structure crosses the central structure; the carry through is 22 ft (6.7 m) long and constructed from 33 electron welded parts machined from titanium; the pivots are located outboard of the engines. Normal sweep range is 20 to 68 deg with a 75-deg "oversweep" position provided for shipboard hangar stowage; sweep speed is 7.5 deg per second.
For roll control below 57 deg, the F-14 uses spoilers located along the upper wing near the trailing edge in conjunction with its all-moving, swept tailplanes, which are operated differentially; above 57-deg sweep, the tailplanes operate alone. For unswept, low-speed combat maneuvering, the outer 2 sections of trailing edge flaps can be deployed at 10 deg and the nearly full-span leading-edge slats are drooped to 8.5 deg. At speeds above Mach 1.0, glove vanes in the leading edge of the fixed portion of the wing extend to move the aerodynamic center forward and reduce loads on the tailplane.
The sharply raked, 2-dimensional 4-shock engine intakes have 2 variable-angle ramps, a bypass door in the intake roof, and a fixed ramp forward; exhaust nozzles are mechanically variable. Viewed from ahead, the top of the intakes are tilted toward the aircraft centerline; from above, the engines are canted outward slightly to reduce interference between intake airflow and the fuselage boundary layer. The engines exhaust through mechanically variable, convergent-divergent nozzles.
Following the loss of three aircraft over a four week period in 1996, the CNO ordered a safety stand down to review what was known in order to find out if there were any operational restrictions that needed to be placed on the aircraft. The Navy placed interim restrictions on the F-14 in the low altitude, high speed environment. Afterburner use was prohibited for F-14Bs and F-14Ds at all altitudes except for operational emergencies.
The Grumman F-14, the world's premier air defense fighter, was designed to replace the F-4 Phantom II fighter (phased out in 1986). F-14s provided air cover for the joint strike on Libyan terrorist targets in 1986. The F-14A was introduced in the mid-1970s. The upgraded F-14A+ version, with new General Electric F-110 engines, now widespread throughout the fleet, is more than a match for enemy fighters in close-in, air combat.
The AWG-9 is a pulse-Doppler, multi-mode radar with a designed capability to track 24 targets at the same time while simultaneously devising and executing fire control solutions for 6 targets. Designed in the 1960's and one of the oldest air-to-air radar systems, the AWG-9 is still the most powerful and new software will increase its capabilities for the 21st century.
The cockpit is fitted with a Kaiser AN/AVG-12 Head-Up Display (HUD) co-located with an AN/AVA-12 vertical situation display and a horizontal situation display. A Northrop AN/AXX-1 Television Camera Set (TCS) is used for visual target identification at long ranges. Mounted on a chin pod, the TCS is a high resolution closed circuit television system with two cockpit selectable Fields Of View (FOV), wide and narrow. The selected FOV is displayed in the cockpit and can be recorded by the Cockpit Television System. A new TCS, in development, will be installed in all three series aircraft. Electronic Support Measures (ESM) equipment include the Litton AN/ALR-45 radar warning and control system, the Magnavox AN/ALR-50 radar warning receiver, Tracor AN/ALE-29/-39 chaff/flare dispensers (fitted in the rear fuselage between the fins), and Sanders AN/ALQ-100 deception jamming pod.
The Tomcat has an internal 20-mm Vulcan Gatling-type gun fitted on the left side, and can carry Phoenix, Sparrow, and Sidewinder AAMs. Up to 6 Phoenix missiles can be carried on 4 fuselage stations between the engines and on 2 pylons fitted on the fixed portion of the wing; 2 Sidewinder AAM can be carried on the wing pylons above the Phoenix mount. Although the F-14 was tested with conventional "iron" bombs on its external hardpoints in the 1960s, the BRU-10 ejection racks were not strong enough to provide a clean separation. Tests in 1988-1990 showed that BRU-32 racks could drop Mk 80-series bombs safely. Later tests would qualify the AGM-88 HARM and the AGM-84 Harpoon.