Tomcat Tribute

The Navy’s fearsome fighter retires.

Feathers ruffled, a "Turkey" rests on the deck of the Harry S. Truman while a Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk hoists in supplies for the carrier population. (PHA Gregory A. Pierot, USN)
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A Crazed Little Kamikaze

I always thought of the Phoenix as a crazed little Kamikaze hanging under your belly. Send it at someone and it's like a mad dog: You are bound to see some bellies after it enters a fight.>>> Tom "Sobs" sobieck, VF-1

Two explosive charges push it away from the aircraft, so when you launch it, you hear "thump, thump." It drops away and you don't see it for a few seconds-but you're so excited, time has slowed and you wonder if something's wrong. Then you see this huge arcing contrail out in front of the airplane. It climbs to about 100,000 feet and you lose sight of it. You just watch for the explosion in the distance. A 1,000-pound missile coming down from 100,000 feet-that's an enormous amount of kinetic energy, never mind the warhead.>>> Dave "Hey Joe" Parsons, VF-102, -32, -101


LANTIRN: The Cat Is Back

After Desert Storm, things looked bad for the F-14 until the Navy fixed it up with a precision weapon delivery system. First built by Martin Marietta in the 1980s for the Air Force F-15E, the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night system allowed a pilot and RIO to detect a target on the ground in infrared, lock onto and track it, and drop laser-guided and GPS-aided weapons with deadly accuracy. Now F-14 pilots could fly close to the ground, at night, or in bad weather during precision-attack missions. Introduced in 1996, the Tomcat's version of LANTIRN not only included an infrared sensor and laser rangefinder but added inertial navigation and GPS equipment, improving accuracy. In some ways, the F-14's system was superior to that flown on the F-15E or F-16C; the F-14 RIO had a bigger cockpit display, which resulted in better target recognition. LANTIRN-equipped Tomcats saw action in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan.>>> Paul Hoversten, Air & Space


Shock and Awe

I remember my first flight out of Pax River with a RIO. He fired up that radar, and I nearly fell out of the seat. It seemed like you could see the whole East Coast. I started to get the feeling for the power the Tomcat would bring to the fight.>>> Curt "Dozo" Dose, NAVAL AIR TEST CENTER

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