posted on Jul, 29 2006 @ 07:21 PM
As much as I loved the Tomcat, sooner or later, down the road, we have to face the fact that it was more legend than actual substance. While it is 5-0
in air-to-air-engagements, the F-14 was never really tested at what it was designed to do.
The late Colonel John Boyd, who is a legend in the USAF, stated in his biography that the Tomcat "is a lumbering, poor-performing, aerial truck."
While Boyd never approved of the swing-wing concept, his assessment has some truth to it. While "poor-performing" is a real stretch, many pilots
have stated both publically and in published, mainstream media, that the F-14 is not an easy plane to fly. In fact, a book once said flying the F-14
"still takes muscle." Anybody who's played the ultra-realistic game Fleet Defender have gotten a taste of how difficult it is to fly. Empty, the
F-14 weights around 52,000. With a full fuel load and missiles, especially the Phoenix, it goes up to about 70,000. Not very light for what was
supposed to be a fighter/interceptor. On top of that, the F-14 is notoriously difficult to land on a carrier. If you culled footage of all the carrier
landings since the F-14's first deployment in 1974, you'd probably see that the F-14 was waved off or went bolter the most of all the air wing
aircraft. Despite the fact it is surprisingly quite manueverable for a heavy, swing-wing fighter, the weight meant that the F-14 lost energy very
quickly. Fighters like the F-16 can regain energy very quickly, the F-14 takes several seconds.
Maintenance was pretty much the biggest factor. I'm not going to restate anything anybody has already stated, but for those who need perspective or
more proof, the F-14 capable of only .028 sorties daily, while the F-15C is capable of .5. Carrier-based fighters are by nature inferior to land-based
fighters. In addition, the results aren't openly availiable, but many in the know have stated the F-14s have been defeated soundly by Air Force F-15s
and F-16s in simulated combat engagements.
At the same rate, the Super Hornet is in no way an adequete replacement for the F-14.