Naval Air: June 27, 2004

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The U.S. Navy plans to retire the last of its F-14 fighters by late 2006, about 18 months earlier than planned. This will save the navy about $155 million. The reason for the faster retirement of the F-14s, which entered service in 1970, was increased production of the F-18E/F and a desire to get the older F-14s out of service. The F-14, a 30 ton swing-wing fighter, was originally developed for fleet defense. For that purpose, special long range Phoenix missiles were developed. As impressive, and expensive (over a million dollars each) as the F-14's Phoenix missile was, it never saw action. When the Cold War ended, some F-14s were modified to drop bombs. The F-18E/F was originally designed as an upgrade to the original F-18A, which entered service in 1982. But by the time the project was finished, the 25 ton F-18A had turned into a 30 ton F-18E that was quite a different aircraft. The F-18E entered service in 1997, and is a much more capable and reliable aircraft than the older F-14s. This will leave Iran as the only nation operating the F-14, having received some in the 1970s, and keeping a few of them in flyable condition to the present. The Iranians improvise a lot, and get assistance from Russia. However, the Iranian F-14s are not in the best of shape, one having crashed, during a training flight, on June 21st.

 


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