Grumman F-14 Tomcat supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, swing-wing, carrier-based fighter. Entered service in 1972 as the US Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter and fleet defence interceptor.
Although used briefly to fly protective patrols over Vietnam, the F-14 first saw combat against Libyan Air Force Sukhoi fighters in 1981. F-14s also performed tactical recon, and in the 1990s began performing precision strike missions. The F-14 remained in service until 2009, although US Navy versions were replaced by F/A-18 Super Hornets in 2006.
The final variant, the F-14D Super Tomcat appeared in 1991. It featured new engines, radar, digital avionics to automate and simplify aircrew functions, and refinements to enhance offensive and defensive capabilities. The F-14 could track up to 24 airborne targets and potentially engage 6 of them simultaneously.
Armament: 20 mm Vulcan M61 ‘Gatling Gun’ cannon, up to 15,000 lb of ordnance, being a combination of AIM-54 Phoenix radar-guided air-to-air missiles, AIM-7 Sparrow radar-homing missiles, and AIM-9 Sidewinder heat seeking missiles. Commonly, this meant a maximum of 2 to 4 Phoenixes/Sparrows on underbelly hardpoints, 2 Phoenixes/Sparrows on wing hardpoints, and 2 Sidewinders on wing hardpoints. On occasion, 4 AIM-7 Sparrows (underbelly) and 4 AIM-9 Sidewinders (on wingmounts) were carried, similar to the F-4 and F-15.
The maximum load of 6x Phoenix missiles was never used operationally. During the late 1970s/1980s a typical weapon load was rarely more than 1 Phoenix, 2 sidewinders, 2 Sparrows, the M61 cannon and two drop tanks.