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F-14 Tomcat.... What should have been!

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  • #31
    Sure is nice to see some love for the mighty F-14 Tomcat, and from people who have experience working with them too. The Tomcat has always been my favorite plane, only got to see it fly one time at the Abbotsford Air Show back in 2002.

    Of course the Super Hornet can outperform the F-14 in some ways (like in user friendliness haha), the F-14 has been out of service for 8 years! But in some critical areas of performance it will never compare to the Tomcat. And why should it, they were originally designed for different missions. I've always thought it was funny how the Super Hornet is less maneuverable and has a lower top speed than the original F/A-18. But it's apparently easy to maintain, user friendly, and has all the comms and whiz-bang weapons that make it a jack of all trades and master of none.

    The Super Hornet is not a piece of crap. And it's great that with all the advancements with the F/A-18E/F over the years, combined with new weapons and newer ships, and better versions of the E-2 .. that a case can be made that the carrier groups are not at a disadvantage compared to when the Tomcat's were on CAP. But that doesn't mean we can't remember a great plane, or think of how capable it might have been in a more advanced configuration.

    EDIT: Seeing the Tomcat fly what struck me was it was far more maneuverable than I was expecting given it's size. The only real downside of the F-14 that I have heard was the variable geometry wings gave away its energy condition.
    Last edited by JA Boomer; 08 Dec 14,, 01:47.

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    • #32
      Originally posted by Fastam View Post
      The F14 never got those upgrades for several reasons, some of the political. However mainly because the Hornet was cheaper to operate, far more reliable . With AESA radars and current data links the Hornets are better than what the F14s had. Comparing what might have been is largely irrelevant. Even then the only real BVR advantage an upgraded F14 would have, is that it could fit a larger aperture. However E2Ds have more than enough range as is.
      Comparing what might have been is absolutely relevant since we're "what if"ing around the decision to retire the F-14 in favor of the 18. The E-2 can certainly help a Hornet overcome it's shortfalls, but the F-14 would gain just as much from having that support. Datalinks are a non-starter since the F-14D also had Link-16...which suggests Link-22 would also be compatible. If your point is that the most up-to-date technology is superior to what was fielded in the late 1990s (in a cockpit layout from the 80s), then I'll say "no shit." But to think that, if the F-14 were not retired, it wouldn't have received similar upgrades just doesn't make sense. It seemed to be heading down that road, but maintenance costs > all. Naval aviation had to change directions in a big way with the adoption of a "jack of all trades" airframe. The Super Hornet does a lot of things fairly well, but it's not that great at any of them. Their short legs make them, in my opinion, a detriment to operations in Afghanistan. They brought nothing to the fight that we couldn't get out of aircraft that didn't need nearly as much attention from C2 and tankers. They're certainly capable as BVR aircraft, but they're not the best, and only with upgrades in the last few years can the case be made (yet still argued) that they're the best the Navy's had in the past 20 years.

      If capability were the deciding factor behind military acquisitions, the A-10's retirement wouldn't be under debate, the AF would have 400 F-22s, the Marines would have an aircraft designed for CAS, the Navy would've cancelled the current crop of modular littoral combat ships, the EF-111 would either be in service or would've been replaced, etc etc etc.
      Last edited by Jimmy; 08 Dec 14,, 01:25.

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Fastam View Post
        The F14 never got those upgrades for several reasons, some of the political. However mainly because the Hornet was cheaper to operate, far more reliable . With AESA radars and current data links the Hornets are better than what the F14s had. Comparing what might have been is largely irrelevant. Even then the only real BVR advantage an upgraded F14 would have, is that it could fit a larger aperture. However E2Ds have more than enough range as is.

        Elite F-14 Flight Officer Explains Why The Tomcat Was So Influential
        i would disagree 100%, had the the Navy built the ASF-14 instead of the superhornet, the 'what might have been comparison wouldbe going the other way.

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        • #34
          Originally posted by JA Boomer View Post
          Sure is nice to see some love for the mighty F-14 Tomcat, and from people who have experience working with them too. The Tomcat has always been my favorite plane, only got to see it fly one time at the Abbotsford Air Show back in 2002.

          Of course the Super Hornet can outperform the F-14 in some ways (like in user friendliness haha), the F-14 has been out of service for 8 years! But in some critical areas of performance it will never compare to the Tomcat. And why should it, they were originally designed for different missions. I've always thought it was funny how the Super Hornet is less maneuverable and has a lower top speed than the original F/A-18. But it's apparently easy to maintain, user friendly, and has all the comms and whiz-bang weapons that make it a jack of all trades and master of none.

          The Super Hornet is not a piece of crap. And it's great that with all the advancements with the F/A-18E/F over the years, combined with new weapons and newer ships, and better versions of the E-2 .. that a case can be made that the carrier groups are not at a disadvantage compared to when the Tomcat's were on CAP. But that doesn't mean we can't remember a great plane, or think of how capable it might have been in a more advanced configuration.

          EDIT: Seeing the Tomcat fly what struck me was it was far more maneuverable than I was expecting given it's size. The only real downside of the F-14 that I have heard was the variable geometry wings gave away its energy condition.

          This type of uninformed bias is what drives me absolutely insane when people reference the super hornets performance. The was a couple of bullshit articles years ago that a disgruntled tomact driver and the gruman employees blatherd about online and people took it for gospel.

          The super hornet is much more maneuverable than the legacy hornet. Its top speed is slightly slower. However is or ever has conducted supersoinc combat above mach 1.5-.1.6.

          The legacy hornets less drag gives it faster transonic acceleration than th super hornet. Subsonic the SH is superior. It only has "short legs" when carrying lots of bombs on the draggy canted pylons. When the new weapons pod is fielded it will have a greater range than the F14 ever did. Not to mention the canted pylons won't need to be carried, which will solve all the transonic acceleration issues.

          People miss understand me. I have no hate for the F14. For its day it was great. But it's an outdated design. With out dated ideas about battle space management in it. People have this over romanticized idea of what the F14 could do.

          It wasn't that good of a dog fighter. It was limited to 6.5gs, its swing wings telegraphed its energy state. For most of it's life it had terrible TF30 engines.

          The radar while very powerful, was extremely unreliable and very prone to ecm.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Jimmy View Post
            Comparing what might have been is absolutely relevant since we're "what if"ing around the decision to retire the F-14 in favor of the 18. The E-2 can certainly help a Hornet overcome it's shortfalls, but the F-14 would gain just as much from having that support. Datalinks are a non-starter since the F-14D also had Link-16...which suggests Link-22 would also be compatible. If your point is that the most up-to-date technology is superior to what was fielded in the late 1990s (in a cockpit layout from the 80s), then I'll say "no shit." But to think that, if the F-14 were not retired, it wouldn't have received similar upgrades just doesn't make sense. It seemed to be heading down that road, but maintenance costs > all. Naval aviation had to change directions in a big way with the adoption of a "jack of all trades" airframe. The Super Hornet does a lot of things fairly well, but it's not that great at any of them. Their short legs make them, in my opinion, a detriment to operations in Afghanistan. They brought nothing to the fight that we couldn't get out of aircraft that didn't need nearly as much attention from C2 and tankers. They're certainly capable as BVR aircraft, but they're not the best, and only with upgrades in the last few years can the case be made (yet still argued) that they're the best the Navy's had in the past 20 years.

            If capability were the deciding factor behind military acquisitions, the A-10's retirement wouldn't be under debate, the AF would have 400 F-22s, the Marines would have an aircraft designed for CAS, the Navy would've cancelled the current crop of modular littoral combat ships, the EF-111 would either be in service or would've been replaced, etc etc etc.
            And how many F14Ds were built? Only 55. Why? Because it was too expensive, not because of the development costs. The cost of meep the damn things in the air. The maintence hours were horrendous.

            Just because the F14 had a datalink doesn't mean it could do the things the current super hornet can via CEC. The APG71 while a massive improvement over the AW9 in reliability, is still a generation behind the APG 79.

            Its funny you mentioned Afghanistan. I had read several account if them being very important because their buddy tanking ablitye alowed them to refuel legacy hornets and F14s. Plus keep up with a strike package. Something the S3 could not do.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by desertswo View Post
              You do realize you are talking to the former voice of Golf Whiskey during Earnest Will and Praying Mantis, right? I ran everything from E-3As to those Tomcats you are so contemptuous of. I only say that because you have this sort of annoying way of telling me my business. I knew my business as it was, and one of the things I knew was the internal fuel capacity of those F-14s, and without tanking beyond initial launch top off, they were good to go way the hell out to hell and gone, something no Hornet ever was. I am well aware of what Link 16 et al. can do. I only retired in 2003, so I'm not entirely without knowledge of what was, and what was coming down the road.
              Don't get me wrong. I respect your service and your experience a great deal. Their is an awful lot of misinformation about the super hornets capability. I have a feeling the usn doesn't bother to debunk it because they would rather people believe it has some serious deficiencies.

              It's been in the last 5 years or so has some of its performance has been made known. There a many topics over on F16.net that go into great detail about the SH alleged problems vs what it really can do.

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              • #37
                Originally posted by Fastam View Post
                This type of uninformed bias is what drives me absolutely insane when people reference the super hornets performance. The was a couple of bullshit articles years ago that a disgruntled tomact driver and the gruman employees blatherd about online and people took it for gospel.

                The super hornet is much more maneuverable than the legacy hornet. Its top speed is slightly slower. However is or ever has conducted supersoinc combat above mach 1.5-.1.6.

                The legacy hornets less drag gives it faster transonic acceleration than th super hornet. Subsonic the SH is superior. It only has "short legs" when carrying lots of bombs on the draggy canted pylons. When the new weapons pod is fielded it will have a greater range than the F14 ever did. Not to mention the canted pylons won't need to be carried, which will solve all the transonic acceleration issues.
                Always nice to meet a fan. I'm as informed as I like to be, never claimed to be an expert. That's why I come to WAB, to discuss and learn.

                You seem to agree the E/F has a lower top speed, and add it has poorer acceleration when compared to the legacy models, so I can't be that off the mark. With the larger LERX's I can believe the E/F could be more maneuverable at slower speeds.

                Originally posted by Fastam View Post
                People miss understand me. I have no hate for the F14. For its day it was great. But it's an outdated design. With out dated ideas about battle space management in it. People have this over romanticized idea of what the F14 could do.

                It wasn't that good of a dog fighter. It was limited to 6.5gs, its swing wings telegraphed its energy state. For most of it's life it had terrible TF30 engines.

                The radar while very powerful, was extremely unreliable and very prone to ecm.
                Originally posted by Fastam View Post
                And how many F14Ds were built? Only 55. Why? Because it was too expensive, not because of the development costs. The cost of meep the damn things in the air. The maintence hours were horrendous.

                Just because the F14 had a datalink doesn't mean it could do the things the current super hornet can via CEC. The APG71 while a massive improvement over the AW9 in reliability, is still a generation behind the APG 79.

                Its funny you mentioned Afghanistan. I had read several account if them being very important because their buddy tanking ablitye alowed them to refuel legacy hornets and F14s. Plus keep up with a strike package. Something the S3 could not do.
                I think you're the one missing the point here. No one is saying the current Super Hornet could/would/should be replaced by the F-14 as it was. But it is an interesting conversation to look at the F-14 vs legacy Hornet and determine which one had more growth potential and what upgraded Tomcats might have been capable of.

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                • #38
                  http://theaviationist.com/2012/11/21/tomcat-vs-hornet/

                  I understand their point. That an upgraded tomcat had more potential. It simply not true. It would be like saying that an upgraded F4 had more potential than what the F16 has become with block 52+updates. The F14s airframe design was obsolete. There no changes you could make to the F14 that could reduce its radar cross section like was done on the SH.

                  I guess the best way to put it is that F14 was never a true 4th gen aircraft, it was a gen 3.5. While the SH is a 4.5.
                  Last edited by Fastam; 08 Dec 14,, 05:58.

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                  • #39
                    Originally posted by Fastam View Post
                    http://theaviationist.com/2012/11/21/tomcat-vs-hornet/

                    I understand their point. That an upgraded tomcat had more potential. It simply not true. It would be like saying that an upgraded F4 had more potential than what the F16 has become with block 52+updates. The F14s airframe design was obsolete. There no changes you could make to the F14 that could reduce its radar cross section like was done on the SH.

                    I guess the best way to put it is that F14 was never a true 4th gen aircraft, it was a gen 3.5. While the SH is a 4.5.
                    in your world, maybe.

                    the F-18 is an updated version of the YF-17, a 1970's airframe.

                    something keeps telling me you really didn't read the article i posted as you seem to keep comparing superhornets to legacy tomcats and D models.

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                    • #40
                      Originally posted by bfng3569 View Post
                      in your world, maybe.

                      the F-18 is an updated version of the YF-17, a 1970's airframe.

                      something keeps telling me you really didn't read the article i posted as you seem to keep comparing superhornets to legacy tomcats and D models.
                      Not just in my world. The real world! The usn had all the information about advanced tomcats. They chose the better platform to base a new fighter. Because make no mistake a super hornet doesn't have much in common with the legacy jet. Like i said before some the reasons for any new tomcat to be built were also political. Gruman had a lot of enemies in the us gov at the time. With good reason Gruman has totally messed up the A12 and their advanced F14s were way to expensive. When the navy and congress realized that the Hornet could do the job just as well with better sensors and longer legs, which it got both of.

                      My problem is that people asserted in this thread that the navy lost some capability the day the F14s were retired. It's simply untrue. The systems on the SH combined with the growler and E2D makes the SH very survivable in the event of fighting a near peer adversary. If the F14 with the systems it had in 2006 went up against Su27/30s backed by S300s they wouldn't be coming home. Super Hornets would.

                      That is if any decent number of F14s could get off the deck. According to F14 pilots who transitioned over to the SH when asked about which jet they prefered. Many said "Hornets on the deck beat Tomacts in the hangar".

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                      • #41
                        Just curious Fastam, what exactly is your experience that makes you an expert on the Super Hornet and F-14 Tomcat that qualifies you to challenge the combat experience and real world experience of a career Navy officer??

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                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Tom24 View Post
                          Just curious Fastam, what exactly is your experience that makes you an expert on the Super Hornet and F-14 Tomcat that qualifies you to challenge the combat experience and real world experience of a career Navy officer??
                          Tom, while I appreciate what you are trying to do, let's not crush people's contributions in that way. He clearly thinks he's got the hot dope on all this, and maybe he has a background that supports it, but he might be just a bit too "energetic" in the way he approaches his position. I have noted that he seems to have ameliorated his methodology so let's just let it go at that.

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                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Fastam View Post
                            Not just in my world. The real world! The usn had all the information about advanced tomcats. They chose the better platform to base a new fighter. Because make no mistake a super hornet doesn't have much in common with the legacy jet. Like i said before some the reasons for any new tomcat to be built were also political. Gruman had a lot of enemies in the us gov at the time. With good reason Gruman has totally messed up the A12 and their advanced F14s were way to expensive. When the navy and congress realized that the Hornet could do the job just as well with better sensors and longer legs, which it got both of.

                            My problem is that people asserted in this thread that the navy lost some capability the day the F14s were retired. It's simply untrue. The systems on the SH combined with the growler and E2D makes the SH very survivable in the event of fighting a near peer adversary. If the F14 with the systems it had in 2006 went up against Su27/30s backed by S300s they wouldn't be coming home. Super Hornets would.

                            That is if any decent number of F14s could get off the deck. According to F14 pilots who transitioned over to the SH when asked about which jet they prefered. Many said "Hornets on the deck beat Tomacts in the hangar".
                            In two ten month deployments to the IO and NAS circa 1980-1982, I rarely saw an F-14 in the hanger, and as I was the guy who manufactured the O2N2 that all of the aircraft then in operation (save the SH-3s) required, I was on the hanger deck every freaking day. There were one or two hanger queens, but they weren't Tomcats.

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                            • #44
                              Originally posted by desertswo View Post
                              Tom, while I appreciate what you are trying to do, let's not crush people's contributions in that way. He clearly thinks he's got the hot dope on all this, and maybe he has a background that supports it, but he might be just a bit too "energetic" in the way he approaches his position. I have noted that he seems to have ameliorated his methodology so let's just let it go at that.
                              Roger that, I guess I was put off by the tone of his responses.

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                              • #45
                                I have been told in the not too distant past is the reason that USN flat tops cruise with 40 odd fast jets these days down from the 70 odd, is the increased reliability/cycle rate of the planes in service at present.

                                Is this correct?

                                The other thing was, that the USN's targeting ability has changed dramatically in the last decade alone... to the point where hitting a manoeuvring hypersonic missile in space with a kinetic kill is feasible.

                                As such the thought process about defeating missiles far away in high threat environments, due to the need to protect the carrier is starting to be questioned. One Standard Missile 6 takes up 4x the amount of space as a RIM 162 is which itself 1/3rd the price of the SM6. Due to the high probability of intercept, the thought is that those SM 6's are taking up space (and money).

                                Then there is the question of where missile tech is going anyway... A meteor missile has a 100 km range, and weighs 185kg. The AIM 120D has a range of greater than 180km, and a weight of 160kg. The Phoenix a range of 190km and a weight of 470kg. So your Supers missiles still have the reach. Then there is the signals management applied to the super. Sure it isn't as good as your F-22, but we know that it takes a decoy pod with it containing 2 decoys, at $22G each, that are exceptionally effective at luring radar guided missiles.

                                Correct me if I am wrong, but in practice supersonic doesn't actually happen in practice, and except in aircraft with the ability to Supercruise, requires afterburner which produces a nasty radar return, and that even with super cruise, the efficiency takes a massive dive over staying subsonic (roughly cutting range by 40%). In practice (again correct me if I am wrong, is actually faster) Tomcat cruise speed 927 km/h F-15 Cruise speed 917km/h Super Hornet Cruise speed 1250km/h. It just hasn't got that top speed, but goes everywhere faster.... Refuelling practices have also changed not to carry the most fuel, but to deliver the most fuel economically.

                                So it would appear the Super cops an unfair beating, it just doesn't have the internal fuel load .

                                I know the RAAF has Supers operating 8 - 9 hour missions against ISIS flying out of AD I think... Admittedly in clean it's got almost 300 k's an hour over the Eagle & Tomcat, is it fair to assume those missions are taking maybe 2 hours less in transit time to complete than a tomcat or eagle option would? Isn't this an important consideration to take into account with stand off distances involved?

                                The same can be said about the comparative range advantages of the F-35C over the F-35B, and why the RN ended up Reversing it's catapult decision - not just because of cost, but because - sortie generation rate being considerably higher with the B than the C and other considerable advantages.
                                Last edited by Chunder; 08 Dec 14,, 13:58.
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