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dman
09-22-2006, 09:47 PM
The F-14 Tomcat, which I feel was the real star of the movie was retired today. It will be replaced by the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. Kind of a sad day for such a tremendous aircraft. It's just my opinion, but from what I read, the aircraft was intentionally negelected from higher ups in order to provide Boeing with a nice deal for the F/A-18E's. With proper maintenance the F-14 could've been around a little longer (the F-15 was commissioned around the same time and is still going strong).Definitely one of the prettiest modern day fighters. Anyway, here's a nice piece about the ceremony:

Navy's 'Top Gun' Fighter Jet Retires
Glamorous Fighter Jet Heads For Museum Duty

POSTED: 3:22 pm EDT September 22, 2006
UPDATED: 3:29 pm EDT September 22, 2006

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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- The F-14 Tomcat, the dogfighting Cold War fighter jet immortalized in the movie "Top Gun," made its ceremonial final flight Friday in a display that suggested the timing was right for retirement.

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Pilot Lt. Cmdr. David Faehnle and radar intercept officer Lt. Cmdr. Robert Gentry gave a final salute from inside their cockpit before aircraft no. 102 taxied down the runway and out of sight at Oceana Naval Air Station.


The plane that actually took off as thousands applauded and whistled, however, was aircraft no. 107, with Lt. Cmdr. Chris Richard at the controls and intercept officer Lt. Mike Petronis in the back seat.

The first jet had mechanical problems - "a common occurrence with the F-14," said Mike Maus, a Navy spokesman. The second jet had been on standby just in case.

Before the flight, Adm. John Nathman, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command and a former F-14 pilot, said the retiring jet with the moveable, swept-back wings was "sometimes tough to fly" and tough to fix - but it was resilient.

"The legacy of this aircraft is not the 'Top Gun' movie," Nathman said. "The legacy is found in America's commitment to win the Cold War."

Built by what was then Grumman Aircraft Corp., the F-14 joined the Navy fleet in 1972 and originally was intended to defend U.S. aircraft carriers from Soviet bombers carrying long-range cruise missiles.

Its dogfighting capabilities were glamorized in the 1986 film "Top Gun," starring Tom Cruise, but the need for such aerial feats dropped steeply when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991.

The Navy retooled the F-14 as a ground-attack jet, and it dropped bombs over Bosnia and Kosovo in the late 1990s, and helped support ground troops in Iraq as recently as this year.

The jet's replacement is the F/A-18 Super Hornet attack fighter. The Navy's last 22 F-14 aircraft deployed came home to Oceana in March, but one squadron continued to flying the jets until this month.

About 3,000 guests - mainly former aviators, mechanics, suppliers and builders - were on hand for the jet's official retirement. The last flying F-14s will go to museums such as the Virginia Aviation Museum in Richmond, which received one last week.

Mike Boehme, the museum's executive director, expects the F-14 to be a big draw. "There's a certain mystique about it," he said.

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Johnny Footstool
09-23-2006, 01:43 AM
I thought the F-18 was a vastly inferior aircraft. Different roles, I guess.

dman
09-23-2006, 07:33 AM
I thought the F-18 was a vastly inferior aircraft. Different roles, I guess.

You are correct. If the Navy and the DoD were smart they would have kept the tooling going for the F-14 and retired the F/A-18 instead. This was nothing more than a program to bail Boeing out of financial hardships.

RedsBaron
09-23-2006, 08:26 AM
The F-14 held up better than Tom Cruise did.;)

Redsland
09-23-2006, 02:10 PM
You are correct. If the Navy and the DoD were smart they would have kept the tooling going for the F-14 and retired the F/A-18 instead. This was nothing more than a program to bail Boeing out of financial hardships.
Well...

The F/A-18 was actually a McDonnell Douglas airframe with an assist from Northrup. Boeing owns the line now because it acquired McD-D seven or eight years ago. By then the Hornet had been in the fleet for 15 years and the Super Hornet was well into development.

As for keeping the F-14, there was just no way. First, it was a maintenance nightmare. According to the DoD (I know, I know) it required 50 maintenance hours per flight hour. That's not just a lot of spare parts and huge, gaping holes in your flight schedule--it's also a lot of labor. And if there is one thing the military is trying to cut WAAAY back on, it's labor. That's why emerging naval platforms, for example, are being designed with enough automation to be crewed by only one-third as many people as current models. Labor costs represent the military's single largest expense, after all.

Secondly, despite all of that maintenance work and care and feeding, the Tomcat was not reliable. Of the nearly 700 that were built, a third crashed.

Yes, it had a big radar. Yes it could fire Phoenix missiles. Yes, it had a huge combat radius. But it was also expensive, dangerous, and anachronistic.

Falls City Beer
09-23-2006, 05:03 PM
I love that military/defense decisions are being made based largely on how to bail out failing, lumbering oxen of companies, such as Boeing.

Can't Wal-Mart do everything? ;)

paintmered
09-23-2006, 05:28 PM
Yes it could fire Phoenix missiles.

Which were about as combat effective as a dump truck with a rocket motor attached to it. It had impressive range, but that's about it.

The F/A-18 on the other hand, has a much more effective array of armament options.

KronoRed
09-23-2006, 05:38 PM
I shall never forgive the military for choosing the F-22 over the cooler looking F-23 ;)

Matt700wlw
09-23-2006, 07:27 PM
I probably shouldn't admit that I've never seen Top Gun...

paintmered
09-23-2006, 07:30 PM
I probably shouldn't admit that I've never seen Top Gun...

Cool movie. Entirely unrealistic.

dman
09-23-2006, 10:08 PM
I understand both sides of the argument here, and I say this not as a supporter of the F-14, but as a critic of the way the DoD does stuff. Anything, if neglected long enough will become a maintenace nightmare of sorts. Maybe it's because they were F-14 crewmembers, but when I was in Pensacola in 2002, I had a long discussion with some F-14 guys, both aircrew and maintenance. The way they made it sound is that their higher ups were telling them that spare parts were intentionally not being ordered, just to speed up the retirement of the Tomcat.

From a maintenance standpoint, the only thing really significant that would require more work on the F-14 would be the fact that it has variable geometry wings. The Super Bug is still subject to the same trap landings, catapault launches, and saltwater environment that the F-14 was.

If you want more on the DoD's love affair with Boeing, see the stories relating to the KC-767, and why there is currently no replacement in sight for the reliable, yet very old KC-135.

KronoRed
09-23-2006, 10:37 PM
I probably shouldn't admit that I've never seen Top Gun...
Just skip past the volley ball playing scene

You'll thank me.

Redsland
09-24-2006, 01:30 PM
From a maintenance standpoint, the only thing really significant that would require more work on the F-14 would be the fact that it has variable geometry wings. The Super Bug is still subject to the same trap landings, catapault launches, and saltwater environment that the F-14 was.
True, the variable geometry wings and their attendant machinery are responsible for a large part of the maintenance equation. But there are plenty of other areas in which the next-generation Hornet offers greater maintenance efficiencies. Improved fly-by-wire, proliferation of glass cockpit, and next-generation engines come to mind. Then there's the lower weight of the Hornet, which reduces the amount of stress imparted to the airframe on each trap and shot. Even things like better-placed borescopes can have a big impact on maintenance time. So it's not just the wings.

If you want more on the DoD's love affair with Boeing, see the stories relating to the KC-767, and why there is currently no replacement in sight for the reliable, yet very old KC-135.
What choice does the DoD have? Tankers and cargo planes are generally either converted commercial airframes or purpose-built. And the only U.S. company that makes commercial airframes is Boeing. (The DoD certainly doesn't want to give multi-billion-dollar tanker contracts to Airbus.)

A purpose-built design from Lockheed, for example (who used to build wide-bodies but doesn't anymore), would likely be more expensive than a converted commercial design. Plus, Lockheed is the primary contractor for both the F-22 and JSF, so the DoD needs to spread some money around to maintain the industrial base.

It's an imperfect system, but no different than awarding engine contracts to inferior Pratt engines in order to prop that company up and maintain "competition" between them and GE. Or awarding dual-prime status to Electric Boat and Newport News to build the only new-construction submarines.

Given this longstanding philosophy of subsidized competition, you have to wonder why the White House is suddenly so hell-bent on cancelling GE's F120. :confused:

westofyou
09-24-2006, 01:34 PM
I probably shouldn't admit that I've never seen Top Gun...

Me either, it's a badge of honor as far as I'm concerned.

Chip R
09-24-2006, 06:07 PM
Cool movie. Entirely unrealistic.

I always thought the Navy should have had recruiting booths at the theaters when Top Gun was playing so young men coming out of the movie would sign up with them.

zombielady
09-25-2006, 09:23 AM
I thought Top Gun was pretty awesome when I was 12... however, it is not nearly as cool when you're an adult.