F-14 TOMCAT 50th ANNIVERSARY
The Grumman F-14 Tomcat served as the US Navy’s premier fighter aircraft for more than 30 years. In addition to its role as fleet air defender, Tom Kaminski explains how it proved to be adaptable when tasked to perform the tactical air reconnaissance mission and later when it was turned into a long-range precision strike platform
Selected as the winner of the US Navy’s VFX (Navy Fighter Experimental) programme in January 1969, Grumman Aircraft’s Design 303E was intended as a replacement for the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and unsuccessful General Dynamics F-111B. The latter was developed under the Joint Services Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX) programme, the naval ‘B’ variant first flying in May 1965. Largely due to weight issues with the design, the F-111B was formally cancelled in December 1968.
The VFX concept was initiated earlier in November 1967, when Grumman AircraftEngineering Corporation submitted an unsolicited proposal to the US Navy.