Grumman F-14D Tomcat

Last revised February 5, 2000


The F-14D designation had originally been assigned to a cost-reduced, stripped version of the Tomcat, proposed at a time when the rapidly-increasing cost of the F-14A was causing great concern. This project never achieved fruition.

The F-14D that is known today originated back in 1984 as an advanced Tomcat derivative that was to be developed in parallel with the F-14A(Plus). Both variants were to be powered by the 27,600 lb.s.t. General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofan, which was designed to remedy some of the defects of the TF30, particularly the problems with compressor stall, but the F-14D was to possess a much more advanced avionics suite.

As compared to the TF30, the F110 engine offers a reduction in time-to-altitude of 61 percent, an increase in mission radius of 62 percent, plus it eliminates the limits on throttle use which had been a serious problem with the earlier F-14A. F110-engined Tomcats can leave the catapult without afterburning, saving valuable fuel. Fortunately, the General Electric engine was slightly smaller in diameter than the Pratt & Whitney powerplant, and no major modifications to the airframe were required.

Unlike the avionics of the F-14A (which were largely analog systems), the F-14D has a digital processing system based on MIL-STD-1553G multiprocessors linking the avionics units together. The F-14D uses the ASN-130 digital inertial navigational system, which is also used by the F/A-18A. The new ASN-139 laser inertial navigation system is designed to be compatible with the -130. The F-14D is equipped with dual AYK-14 Standard Airborne Computers. and gives the F-14D improved detection and tracking range. The F-14D is equipped with dual AYK-14 Standard Airborne Computers. The digital processors analyze information from the radar, prioritize targets, and select the weapons firing sequence. On the F-14A, integration of the missiles was handled by the AWG-9, but on the F-14D this is done by a digital stores management system.

The avionics suite of the F-14D is centered around the Hughes AN/APG-71 radar. The APG-71 is a development of the APG-70 used in the F-15E Strike Eagle. It features a digital processor, a low-sidelobe antenna, a sidelobe-blanking guard channel, and monopulse angle tracking, all of which are intended to make the radar less vulnerable to jamming. It features a low-sidelobe antenna, a sidelobe-blanking guard channel, and monopulse angle tracking, all of which are intended to make the radar less vulnerable to jamming. It has a power output of 5 kilowatts ads compared to 2.8 kilowatts for the F/A-18, which endows it with superior long-range radar capability. It has both low and high-pulse repetition frequencies. The low PRF mode is used for single-target tracking and for ground mapping, whereas the high PRF is used for long range search. The AN/APG-71 can track more than 24 targets simultaneously, and has an acquisition range of up to 400 nautical miles. By using a fighter-to-fighter link, the radar from one aircraft can hand-off to the radar of another fighter, giving it "eyes" to the full range of the system. The F-14D is compatible with the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS), which integrates communication, navigation, and identification codes into a single jam-free system for multi-service use.

The F-14D is provided with a dual chin pod under the nose that contains both a Northrop AN/AXX-1 Television Camera System (TCS) and a General Electric Infrared Search and Track (IRST) system. Previous Tomcat versions carried one or the other of these systems, but not both. This system works with the radar to identify the targets detected.

The wing glove box leading edge extensions of the F-14D were recontoured to house antennae for the ALR-45, for the Itek ALR-67 radar-warning receiver and for an AN/ALQ-165 Airborne Self Protection Jammer (ASPJ). The ALR-67 incorporates both the traditional crystal-video pattern type of receiver used for radar warning, plus a superheterodyne receiver receiver controlled by a high-speed reprogrammable digital processor. This makes it more flexible in the face of evolving threats. It extends coverage into the millimeter and laser wavelength frequencies. The ASPJ had initially been scheduled for the F-14A, but was cancelled when if tailed to pass its development tests. However, this equipment was later installed in the F-14D since it ultimately proved to be fairly effective. The F-14D carries the AN/ALQ-167 electronic countermeasures pod and is provided with Tracor AN/ALE-39 chaff/flare/expendable jammer dispensers in the lower rear fuselage.

In addition, the F-14D has equipment for onboard oxygen generation and features revised cockpit displays with night vision goggle capability. The analog instruments of the F-14A are largely replaced by heads-up displays (HUD) and by multi-function display screens. The rear cockpit has a single multi-function glass display as well as other, smaller displays for the new electronics. The RIO is presented with a combined optical/infrared image that can show the skin temperature and exhaust heat of an air target as far as 100 nautical miles distant.

The F-14D is equipped with the new Martin Baker Mk 14 Navy Aircrew Common Ejection Seats (NACES), which offer the possibility of higher-velocity escapes (up to 700 knots in level flight and 600 knots at any attitude). The new seat dispenses with the optional face blind handle used on its predecessor. The Navy had initially planned to equip all F-14s with this seat, but the halting of Tomcat production in February of 1991 resulted in the new seat being installed only in the new-build and converted F-14Ds.

In contrast to the F-14A, all of the F-14Ds are capable of carrying the TARPS reconnaissance pod slightly off centerline on Phoenix station number five. The pod contains a KS-87B forward or vertical frame camera, a KA-99 low-altitude panoramic camera, and an AN/AAD-5 infrared linescan.

The F-14D can make an operational sortie 150 miles from the carrier, loiter for two hours, and retain sufficient fuel reserves for several passes on its return to the carrier.

The Navy's F110 engine ran for the first time in December of 1984. The first flight tests with the new engine were carried out on the F-14B "Super Tomcat", the first flight taking place on September 29, 1986. In support of the F-14D development program, four TF30-powered F-14As were converted, serials being 161865, 161867, 162595, and 161623. F-14A BuNo 161865 was modified as an avionics test bed for the F-14D program and flew for the first time on November 23, 1987. It had F-14D's APG-71 radar, digitized avionics and cockpit, but retained the TF30 engines. It was used to conduct communications, navigation, radar, and datalink tests. The only one of the four prototypes to fly initially with a pair of F110-GE-400 engines was 161867. This aircraft flew for the first time on April 21, 1988, piloted by Tom Cavanaugh. It was later brought up to partial F-14D configuration with the D-model's avionics and radar. It was later used for TARPS, radar, avionics and environmental tests. 162595 and 161623 were both powered by TF30 turbofans and made their maiden flights on May 31 and September 21, 1988, respectively, and were used for radar and stores management integration, ECM and RWR testing, and IRST and TCS integration, plus live weapons firing and JTIDS development and systems verification.

The first production F-14D was first flown on February 9, 1990 and was displayed in a March 23, 1990 ceremony at Calverton. Externally, the most obvious difference between the F-14D and the F-14A is the presence of the dual chin pod under the nose of the F-14D that contains both the Television Camera System (TCS) and the Infrared Search and Track (IRST).

The first prototype F-14D was delivered to VX-4 at Point Mugu, California in May of 1990, where it was given a full evaluation.

The first production aircraft was rolled out on March 23, 1990. Grumman had hoped to deliver at least 12 "new-build" F-14Ds to the Navy every year through 1998, while also remanufacturing many of the earlier F-14As to F-14D standards. However, in 1989 Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney had decided that the entire F-14D program should be terminated in an economy move. Newspaper and TV advertisements did nothing to persuade Cheney to change his mind. However, the Navy still wanted more F-14Ds, and Secretary of the Navy H. Lawrence Garrett issued a strong appeal for at least 132 "new-build" F-14Ds from 1992 onward. Secretary Cheney turned this proposal down flat, and went a step further in March 1991, and deleted all F-14D production funds from the FY 1992 budget. This was a catastrophe for Grumman, stopping Tomcat production in its tracks and forcing massive layoffs at the company.

The F-14D entered fleet service in July 1992 (too late for the Gulf War). The F-14D was originally intended to have entered service with VF-51 and VF-111. However, this proposal was abandoned when VF-11 and VF-31 moved to Miramar from Oceana. These two units then converted to the F-14D in July of 1992, and VF-2 converted to the F-14D in early 1993. VF-51 and VF-11 reverted back to the F-14A. The conversion of VF-1 to the F-14D was abandoned when only half complete-the unit was disbanded in late 1993.

Only thirty-seven of the planned 127 new-build F-14Ds were completed. The last of these new-build F-14D was delivered to the Navy on July 20, 1992. Another 18 F-14Ds were produced by conversions of existing F-14As, these planes being redesignated F-14D(R) upon completion of the conversions. A total of 104 F-14D(R) conversions were originally planned, but the program was cut way back in the 1989 budget reduction. The six F-14D(R) aircraft of FY90 were spared the axe, but 98 planned conversions funded between FY91 and FY95 were cancelled. However, the 12 FY91 F-14D(R) conversions were later restored. The last F-14D(R) conversion was delivered in November of 1994.

Failure to get support for keeping the F-14D production line open and the inability to attract any interest in advanced multi-role versions of the Tomcat forced Grumman into a merger with Northrop, which took place in May of 1994.

A total of 55 F-14D new-builds and conversions were produced. This was enough to equip only three front-line squadrons. These F-14D-equipped squadrons are VF-2 "Bounty Hunters", VF-11 "Red Rippers", and VF-31 "Tomcatters". In addition, part of the Pacific Fleet training unit VF-124 is equipped with F-14Ds. First to become operational with the F-14D was VF-11 in July of 1992. A few prototype and early test F-14Ds have been redesignated NF-14Ds and serve with some dedicated test units. The shortage of F-14Ds was so severe that VF-11 had to transition back to the F-14B in late 1996.

Along with the F-14Bs in service, the F-14Ds are to receive a planned Block 1 upgrade. This includes the introduction of GPS capability, a digital flight control system, AN/ARC-210 radios, and probably an attack FLIR, plus the capability of carrying the AN/ALE-50 towed decoy.

Early F-14Ds 163145 and 163146 were permanently assigned to test duties under the designation NF-14D. They were operated by VX-4. The N prefix indicates that the planes have received a degree of modification which makes it impractical to return them to operational status.

Squadrons operating the F-14D:


Serials of F-14D:

159588/159637	Grumman F-14A-85-GR Tomcat
				159610(DR-1),159613(DR-4),159600(DR-5),
				159629(DR-7),159628(DR-8),159619(DR-9),
				159592(DR-10),159595(DR-12),159603(DR-14),
				159635(DR-15),159633(DR-16),159618(DR-17),
				159630(DR-18) converted to F-14D(R).
161133/161168	Grumman F-14A-110-GR Tomcat 
				161159(DR-1),161158(DR-3),161166(DR-6),
				161133(DR-11),161154(DR-13) were converted
				to F-14D(R).
161597/161626	Grumman F-14A-125-GR Tomcat 
				161623 used as F-14D testbed and later
				redesignated NF-14D.
161850/161879	Grumman F-14A-130-GR Tomcat 
				161867 modified as F-14D testbed, later 
				redesignated NF-14D.
				161865 modified as F-14D testbed.
162588/162611	Grumman F-14A-135-GR Tomcat
				162595 modified as F-14D testbed.
163412/163418	Grumman F-14D-160-GR Tomcat
				163415 and 163416 converted to NF-14D.
163893/163904 	Grumman F-14D-165-GR Tomcat
164340/164357	Grumman F-14D-170-GR Tomcat

Specification of Grumman F-14D Tomcat:

Engines: Two General Electric F110-GE-400 turbofans, each rated at 16,090 lb.s.t. dry and 26,795 lb.s.t with afterburning. Performance: Maximum speed (with four semi-recessed Sparrow missiles) Mach 1.2 (912 mph) at sea level, Mach 2.34 (1544 mph) at 40,000 feet. Combat air patrol loiter time 2.05 hours (at 173 mile radius with two 280 US gallon drop tanks). Combat air patrol radius (with 1 hour loiter) 423 miles. intercept radius (Mach 1.3) 319 miles. Initial climb rate greater than 50,000 feet per minute. Ferry range 2200 miles. service ceiling greater than 58,000 feet. Weights: 42,000 pounds empty, maximum takeoff weight, 75,000 pounds. Dimensions: wing span 64 feet 1 1/2 inches (unswept), 38 feet 2 1/2 inches (fully swept), length 62 feet 8 inches, wing area 565 square feet. Fuel: Maximum internal fuel 2385 US gallons. A 267 US-gallon drop tank can be carried on a hardpoint underneath each air intake. Armament: One 20-mm General Electric M61A1 Vulcan in the nose with 675 rounds. Provision for six AIM-7F/M Sparrow and two AIM-9L/P Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, or six AIM-54A/C Phoenix long-range air-to-air missiles and two AIM-9L/P Sidewinders, or four AIM-54A/C Phoenix missiles underneath the fuselage and two AIM-7F/M Sparrow and two AIM-9L/P Sidewinders on the wing glove pylons. Up to 14,500 pounds of external stores can be carried underneath the fuselage, beneath the engine inlets (fuel tanks only), and on a wing rack underneath each wing globe. For the attack mission, four 1000-lb Mk 83 or 2000-lb Mk0 84 low-drag GP or laser-guided bombs can be carried on the Phoenix fuselage mounts. For the SEAD mission, four AGM-88B HARM missiles can be carried on fuselage stations.

Sources:


  1. Grumman Aircraft Since 1919, Rene J. Francillon, Naval Institute Press, 1989.

  2. Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Doug Richardson, Osprey, 1987.

  3. F-14 Tomcat: Fleet Defender, Robert F. Dorr, World Airpower Journal, Vol 7, 1991.

  4. Grumman F-14 Tomcat Variant Briefing, World Airpower Journal, Vol. 19, 1994.

  5. Grumman F-14 Tomcat Variant Briefing, Part 2, World Airpower Journal, Vol. 20, 1994.

  6. The American Fighter, Enzo Angelucci and Peter Bowers, Orion, 1987.

  7. Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft, Volume 1, David Donald and Jon Lake, AirTime, 1994.

  8. The World's Great Interceptor Aircraft, Gallery Books, 1989.

  9. Feline Claws--The Nine Lives of the F-14, David Baker, Air International, Vol 49, No 5, p. 285 (1995).

  10. 25 Years of the Tomcat, Rene J. Francillon, Air Fan International, March 1996.

  11. Grumman F-14 Tomcat, Jon Lake, AirTime, 1998.