The Grumman F-14A Tomcat was designed to provide the Fleet with a Mach 2.0 (twice the speed of sound) air superiority fighter capable of fleet defense at both long and short range. It can be armed with a variety of air-to-air missiles and the MK 61A1 20MM "Gatling Gun."

The first flight on this variable geometry "Swing Wing" aircraft was made in December 1970 with the first Fleet deployment on USS Enterprise (VF-1 and 2) in mid-1974. Although used briefly to fly protective patrols over Vietnam, the Tomcat's combat initiation occurred in a successful encounter with Libyan Air Force Sukhoi Fighters in August 1981. The F-14 has undergone considerable upgrading and modification during its life and has been continuously tested at Patuxent River since 1972. Improvements to engines, electronics, flight control systems and armaments are ongoing. Although no longer in production, modification sites in various parts of the country update this vital member of the Carrier Air Wing's complement of aircraft. Mission expansion of this versatile aircraft includes tactical air reconnaissance and delivery of laser guided air-to-ground weapons. This mission expansion ensures the Tomcat's value to the Fleet well into the 21st century.

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