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    The History and Development of the F-14 Tomcat in Strangereal

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    Ronin201
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    The History and Development of the F-14 Tomcat in Strangereal

    Post by Ronin201 on Wed Jun 24, 2015 12:39 pm

    The author would like to note that this entry is very heavily based on his interpretation of the Ace Combat canon (to include fictional aircraft and conflicts), on which he may take a different approach than that of the readers’. The author will not adhere to others’ canons just because they want him to (though he will respect them). Thank you.

    The History of the F-14 Tomcat in Strangereal


    (The F-14 Tomcat)

    Overview

    The F-14 Tomcat is a two-seat, two-engine fighter-interceptor designed by Grumman (later Northrop Grumman) to both achieve air superiority and to defend carrier battle groups from long-range attack by ship-killing missiles. It’s primary variants were the F-14A, F-14B, and F-14D. The aircraft was originally designed to have a very limited ground attack capability, but eventually was adapted to carry precision bombs as the A-6 Intruder neared retirement and the A-12 Avenger II was cancelled. The F-14 was capable of flying at 1,544 mph with a combat radius of 500 nmi and a ferry range of 1,600 nmi. It had a maximum ceiling of around 50,000 feet and weighed 74,350 lb when at its max load. Early models were powered by the Pratt and Whitney TF-30 turbofan, while later variants incorporated the General Electric F110 turbofan. The F-14 served in several small conflicts such as the 1985 Futuro Crisis and 1998 Futuro Crisis, but also saw major action in the 1995 Belkan War, 1997-98 Usean Rebellion, 2003-2005 Usean Continental War, and the 2010 Circum-Pacific War.

    Development History

            The F-14 Tomcat was brought forth as the result of two major events. The first was the need for an aircraft to replace the F-4 Phantom II and F-8 Crusader. The F-4 had proven to be grossly unsuited for close-in dogfighting (especially during the 1968-1970 Songolian Civil War and 1972-1973 border war between Juregadar and Leasath) and even beginning to lack in its initial role of fleet defense (some studies showed that F-4 pilots armed with AIM-7 Sparrows were only killing half the incoming threats at most during exercises). The F-8, although an excellent dogfighter, was very poor as a fleet defender and was reaching the end of its service life. The second was the poor performance of the first candidate for the Osean’s Naval Fighter Experimental Program (aka VFX), the F-111B. The F-111B performed poorly as a fighter and as a carrier-based aircraft, and in 1968 was killed in favor of a design proposed by Grumman. The name “Tomcat” was chosen as Grumman fighter designs often revolved around feline names.



    (Top to Bottom: The F-111B, F-4 Phantom , and F-8 Crusader)

           The F-14’s design revolved around the idea of being able to carry the large AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missile. Thus, it was given a very powerful radar, the Hughes AWG-9, and retained the two-crewman component of the F-111B. However the crew was put one behind the other rather than side-by-side in a canopy that allowed for good visibility. The Radar Intercept Officer (RIO) would control the F-14’s radar and provide the pilot with proper targeting information while the pilot fired on targets and maneuvered the aircraft. The F-14 was also designed to use the AIM-7 sparrow for medium-range engagements, and the AIM-9 sidewinder for close-range engagements. Applying lessons learned, the F-14 also carried a M61 six-barreled 20mm cannon in its nose as a last resort. The F-14 was also designed with variable geometry “swing wings” to allow for the best performance at different speeds. In line with naval aircraft, she was also given a tail hook and strong landing gear to survive flight operations.
            The F-14 made its first flight in 1969, and full production began the following year. It achieved frontline status by 1972 with the Osea Navy. The most immediate problem the F-14 experienced was its engines. The TF-30s were not powerful enough to support the fighter and were prone to compressor stalls. After intense pressure from pilots and senior officers, a better engine was sought. Eventually the General Electric F110 turbofan was chosen in 1985, and types re-engined with the powerplant became known as the F-14A+ (The designation was changed to F-14B in 1987). F-14Bs would also incorporate newer avionics and make standard the Tactical Camera System (TCS) that had been used on some F-14As. The first F-14Bs (in reality re-engined F-14As) would enter service in 1985. The F-14 would also gain the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) at this time, increasing its mission set.



    (Top to bottom: TARPS, GE F110 and TCS)

            The F-14D “Super Tomcat” was the ultimate incarnation of the F-14 design. First proposed in 1982, the F-14D was designed to increase the capabilities of the Tomcat in several areas. It would feature improved radar (the AN/APG-71), a dual chin pod that featured both a TCS and IR sensor, and would be able to bring weapons such as the AGM-88 High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM) and AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile into the Tomcat’s arsenal. The F-14D was coupled with the A-6F Intruder in what Grumman coined the “NAVAIR 2000 Force”. The Super Tomcat entered frontline service in 1994, but unlike previous versions the Super Tomcat would be plagued by post Belkan War and Osean-Yuktobanian Cold War budget cuts. In addition to these major models, there were several other proposals and variants which never saw wide use.

    (An F-14D of VF-3 aboard OFS James Wellington, Circa 1997)

            In the early days of the F-14, the F-14L (L for land-based) was offered to a number of countries (see “Failed Bids”) as a land-based fighter. The F-14L was stripped of several things that it needed specifically for carrier operations to make the machine cheaper. It was also stripped of the AIM-54 system at the request of the Osean government. The F-14L was never more than a wooden mockup, as no countries expressed interest in the variant. The Osean Marines and Osean Air Force were offered a similar aircraft, a more interceptor oriented version for the Air Force and a strike fighter for the Marines. Both services turned down the aircraft in favor of McDonnell Douglas products (the F-15 for the OAF and the F/A-18 for the OMC). Perhaps the most famous of the proposed tomcats were Quickstrike the Super Tomcat 21 (ST-21), proposed in the wake of the cancellation of the A-12A Avenger II and A-6F Intruder. The Quickstrike was a simple upgrade to the F-14D which would further increase its ground-attack capability, giving it the ability to use weapons such as the AGM-84E Standoff Land Attack Missile (SLAM). The ST-21, or F-14E Strikecat in some circles, added upon the Quickstrike by incorporating a one-piece windscreen, improved wing gloves, and redesigned leading edges. Neither were chosen and the F-14 was eventually retired, replaced in various services by different aircraft.

    (An artist's depiction of the ST21)

    Operational History

    Osea

    Osea was been the primary operator of the F-14 Tomcat, flying the aircraft operationally from early 1973 to the beginning of 2011. It served only in the Osean Navy, as the Air Force used the F-15 Eagle and the Osean Marine Corps preferred the F/A-18 Hornet. The Tomcat officially entered Osean Navy service with VX-12 in 1970. The second and third squadrons to receive the F-14A were VF-112 (Pacific) and VF-18 (Atlantic), the Osean Navy’s fleet training squadrons. In 1972, the first frontline squadron to receive the F-14 was VF-1, the Wolfpack, followed by VF-225, the Raging Rams. On the Atlantic Coast, the Outlaws of VF-78 and VF-168, the Archers received the F-14 in early 1973. The F-14 would fully replace the F-4 in Osean Naval service by 1984. The F-14 was operated strictly from larger Nimitz, Forrestal, and Kitty Hawk class carriers; the small Midway class could not handle the large jets.

    (Two VF-1 Wolfpack Tomcats on a training mission in 1974)

    The F-14 would first see combat in 1985, when it was deployed aboard the OFS Vulture (CVN-34) for Operation Good Neighbor. Two squadrons, VF-135 (The Gunfighters) and VF-78 were involved in the Five-day bombing campaign. During the attacks the downed a number of Mirages under the control of the Revolutionary Army of Futuro. Two F-14s were lost to Surface-to-Air Missiles (SAMs), but none fell to enemy aircraft. Also of note was the fact that F-14s were never called upon to deploy the AIM-54 in anger. It was believed that the AIM-7 and AIM-9 were far better suited to engaging small fighters.

    (A Tomcat of VF-135, flown by Cody Walker and Jean Ullis, during Operation Good Neighbor. They scored two kills against Mirage IIIs during the campaign)

    One very common scenario for Tomcat crews outside of combat was the interception of aircraft attempting to spy on the fleet. The most common intruders were aircraft of the Yuktobanian Navy (YN) and Air Force (YAF). Carrier battle groups observed strict EMissions CONtrol (EMCON) to counter the snooping radars of intruding aircraft, but even then the need to intercept them and escort them out remained. The interception often fell to the “Alert Five” aircraft on the carrier. The jets would meet the bogies with guidance from an E-2 Hawkeye, and arm their radars once they were too close for the bogies to escape. Once under the escort of the Tomcats, the intruders would be inspected and taken away from the carrier. Though often the interactions between the two flights could be lighthearted, ever incident was taken seriously in the event a real attack was coming.
           Nearly ten years after its combat debut, the F-14 would be part of its first major war. In late March of 1995, Belkan Forces began a massive offensive against the small country of Ustio to recapture it and take its much-needed resources. It also attacked into Osea and Sapin. Ten F-14 units would be involved in the Belkan War: VF-108, VF-97, VF-123, VF-138, VF-115, VF-34, VF-225, VF-110, and VF-207. Despite relatively few units being involved, they earned a large percentage of the kills scored against the Belkan Air Force (BAF). They would also play a large role in the Battle of Oured Bay and the liberation of the Futuro Canal, helping to clear the body of water of the Belkan Navy. The F-14 would also be involved for the supposed Belkan aircraft carrier Njord, though the ship was found to be a hoax; the carrier had been planned and partially built, but never completed.

    (An F-14A belonging to VF-207, the Heartbreakers, aboard OFS Evergreen is positioned on the carrier's #1 catapult, circa 1986)


    (Top: VF-138, the Red Ronin, were one of two squadrons to first use the F-14D in combat. Bottom: An F-14B of VF-115, the Fighting Typhhons, just after the Belkan War. It was piloted by Ryan Bardford and Takeru Hinamoto)


    The F-14s involved in the Belkan War operated from carriers of the Pacific Fleet and were squadrons from the Pacific fleet themselves. Much of the Atlantic fleet had been destroyed by BAF raids, and several Atlantic Fleet F-14 squadrons were also heavily hit. The remaining Atlantic Fleet squadrons would spend much of the war on land or reinforcing the Pacific coast. When hostilities officially ended in June of 1995, the F-14 stayed in the area for Operation Mediation, ensuring that the Belkan military was kept from launching attacks. This operation would be a staple of Osean naval aviation until the Osean military was reformed into the Osean Defense Force and several squadrons and carriers were given early retirement (bitterly dubbed “The Harling Cuts” by many pilots). However, in 1998 the F-14 was once again called into action over the Futuro Canal for Operation Desert Viper. The three-days of attacks by Osean, Ustian, and Sapin jets was made in response to the taking of the canal by Belkan forces and overtures by Belkan forces against the borders of Sapin and Ustio.

    (An F-14D of VF-123, the Six Shooters, prepares to launch from OFS Vindicator on the first night of Operation Desert Viper)

            The last major conflict for the F-14 in Osean hands was the Circum-Pacific War in 2010. Osean Maritime Defense Force F-14s were involved in defending the west coast from Yuktobanian attacks. Tomcats fought over the port of St. Hewlett and the Eaglin Straits. F-14 tomcats would also be among the first ODF machine to raid the Yuktobanian mainland, proving the value of their combination of GBUs and long-range. The “Four Wings Of Sand Island”, later known by Yuktobanian soldiers as “The Razgriz” flew F-14s for a time. Despite their age compared to newer designs like the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and Su-27M, F-14s were still a powerful force. The entire Pacific F-14 fleet would be involved, as well as a few Atlantic squadrons.


    (Top To bottom: Two Tomcats from the OFS Kestrel in 2010 and an F-14 of the mysterious Razgriz)

            By the end of the conflict the F-14 would see the Osean military it’d started its career in begin to return, but by then the machine was long due for retirement. It would finally be replaced by another Northrop Grumman design: the F-21A Thunderhawk (dubbed ‘Tomcat II” by some pilots), which had entered service in 2001. However the Tomcat story didn’t end there, per say. The Osean Private Military Contractor (PMC) Rosenthal Security used Quickstrikes and ST21s in a few of its conflicts in the Middle East and the Anean War of 2016, but the specific details have been classified.

    (An F-21 of VF-3, circa 2016)

    ISAF/Usean Continental Government

    The other major operator of the F-14 Tomcat was the Usean government when the continent was under one ruling party and by one of the members of ISAF. The F-14B was first bought by the Usean Continental Government in 1994, being assigned to the 232nd Naval Fighter Squadron (NFS) aboard the carrier Saint Ark. In 1997, the F-14 was used by both Usean rebels and government forces during the Usean Insurgency. Of note was one particular rebel F-14, equipped with an experimental AI tech called Zone of Endless, or ZOE. The aircraft was destroyed during this conflict, but many details surrounding it remain classified, though it was found that Belka’s Gründer Industries initiated the project. The Usean government possessed seven F-14 squadrons: The 232nd NFS, the 180th NFS, the 88th NFS, the 401st NFS, the 91st NFS, the 68th NFS, and the 92nd Special Tactical Fighter Squadron. The participated mainly in air-to-air combat, though some also delivered bombs.

    (Two Usean F-14s on patrol in the wake of the Ulysses impacts)

    After the rebels surrendered, The F-14 would not see combat over Usea until 2003. It would be involved in the aftermath of the Ulysses asteroid impacts, but only to help provide security and use its TARPS. By 2002 all F-14s had gone to the Independent State Allied Forces (ISAF) to be operated from their Kitty Hawk class carriers. ISAF’s other carriers were far too small to operate the machine and the newly independent country of Erusea preferred other naval aircraft. In 2003, when the Eruseans invaded San Salvacion, the F-14 was once again called into action. Intially Ten F-14 units would serve under ISAF, but as the war progressed, the number was reduced, by 2004, to six. The F-14 played vital roles in several key battles of the war. It was initially involved in raids against the Erusean Stonehenge system, employing its TARPS abilities as well as acting as an escort aircraft.

    (An ISAF Tomcat of the 91st NFS aboard the carrier Fort Grace in late 2004)

    The F-14’s shining moment would be during Operation Countdown, known more popularly as the “New Year’s Air Offensive” by ISAF. ISAF F-14s accounted for a high number of kills against the Eruseans that day, showing enough lethality to even hold their own against the famed Yellow Squadron. Tomcats also played a large role in protecting ISAF naval assets from FEAF raids, as the Harrier FA2, F/A-18C Hornet, and A-4 Skyhawk (the other fighter aircraft of ISAF’s naval forces) lacked the proper range and could not fire the AIM-54. Tomcats would continue to serve in roles from interdiction to interception until the end of the war. After 2005, Tomcats would not see further combat over Usea. In 2012 the F-14 was replaced in ISAF service by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

    (The F/A-18E Super Hornet prototype during weapons testing, circa 1999)

    Failed Bids

    In the 1970s and 1980s, a number of countries were offered the F-14 Tomcat (see F-14L in Development History). The first offers were to Emmeria and Sapin in 1976. Emmeria initially showed serious interest in the project, and even sent officers to train with Osean squadrons, but turned down the F-14 for its air force in favor of the Mirage 2000. The Emmerians cited that the aircraft was closer to their older Mirages, and thus would be easier to convert their pilots to. It also turned down the F-14 as a naval aircraft due to the fact that its Clemenceau-class aircraft carriers could not support the Tomcat. Sapin rejected the F-14 in favor of a more multirole aircraft, which it found in the F/A-18 Hornet and F-16 Fighting Falcon. Initially the Tomcat was offered to several countries near Yuktobania, but the move was cancelled when it caused a spike in tensions between the two countries, prompting the Osean government to intervene.
    In the early 1990s, the F-14 was offered to the newly formed Ustian Air Force. The Ustians had been looking to rapidly gain modern weaponry in the face of rising nationalism and anti-Ustian fervor in Belka. The F-14 would provide them with an interceptor capable of both augmenting their relatively older force of A-4s, F-20s, Mirages and F-104s as well as providing an eventual replacement for several of those aircraft. However, the Tomcat would be foiled by its competitor, the McDonnell Douglas F-15 Eagle. In what remains a controversial subject, the McD representative sold the UAF on the idea that a single-seat aircraft was able to beat all others. Grumman set out to disprove this, but McD’s public relations department was able to keep the UAF on their side despite evidence contrary to their claims. In the 1995 war, however, the UAF only had two F-15s, and Grumman supported the Eagle-Tomcat rivalry by sending stickers that read “Anytime, McDonell Douglas!” to Osean Navy F-14 squadrons as a jibe at the failure of McD to deliver the UAF’s order in a timely manner.

    (The patch that bore the motto and mascot of all F-14 pilots. At least a dozen variants of this exist for various squadrons and campaigns)

    The respective owners of material contained within retain their rights. This is purely a fan work.


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