Naval Air: March 22, 2003


The war in Iraq will be the last war for the venerable F-14 Tomcat. The most advanced fighter ever built when it entered service in the early 1970s, the aircraft cost over $100 million each in today's dollars. But as the F-14 got older, it became more expensive to maintain. Currently, the F-14 costs twice as much per flight hour as the more modern F-18. In terms of maintenance manhours, it's 33 per flight our versus 20 for the F-18. The swing wing F-14 was designed to deal with the Cold War era Soviet navy bombers and cruise missiles. That threat is gone and the F-14 has been converted to handle recon and bombing missions. But it's cheaper to do this with other aircraft. The last F-14's built, 37 F-14Ds in the early 1990s are pretty beat up from heavy use. And the older ones are in worse shape. To save money, the remaining F-14s will probably be retired within a few years and replaced by F-18Ds. 


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