posted on Feb, 11 2005 @ 06:56 PM
Thinking about the supposed capabilities of the new F-22 made me recall a tale about an earlier "super fighter." The second generation of the TFX
was called the F-14. It was controversial and radical. It proposed to use long range radar and bvr missiles of unprecedented range managed by a
computer system - sort of a mini AWACS built right into a fighter plane (in which role Iran operated the F-14 at one time). A test was set up with a
reserve fighter organization - a stacked test as it were because reserves tend to be the best units in the entire air force system. If the F-14 was
any good in multiple air combat, it should be able to demonstrate this, although it was only a prototype, and no tactical doctrine yet existed for
The test, written up by Aviation Week and Space Technology, involved the first multiple kills in history to missiles. Regretfully, although unarmed
Phoenix missiles were used, they included two actual kills! The missile offset (they were set to miss by 100 feet) was ineffective because weapons
release was too close, and the flight path was inside the skin of the target fighters, so a single F-14 came away with 5 kills (the others were camera
killes) out of 7 engaged - in a series - one on one, one on two, finally one on four. The opposing commander called off the test when two of his
flight of four went down - as he should have done.
F-14 was a technical mistake. It has never achieved its promise. It was excessively expensive, dictating the size of US carriers be larger than would
be required for F-18s. There were never enough missiles to make it combat effective - IF they worked - because they were too expensive. But they never
worked. Long range shots in 1991 missed. The unique radar betrays the aircraft upwards of a thousand miles away, and it could be used to guide
(passive) incoming weapons.
Will the F-22 turn out to be a white elephant?