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Last Updated:  Wednesday, 11 December, 2002, 11:01 GMT
Fact file: F-14 Tomcat
F-14 Tomcat

The F-14, the "Top Gun" aircraft in the film of that name, has been the US Navy's main carrier-borne fighter since the early 1970s.

It was built to carry the long-range Phoenix air-to-air missile - which has a control system that can attack up to six targets in all weathers and in spite of electronic jamming, at ranges of more than 100 miles (161 km).

The two jet engines were problematic in early versions. Later ones have General Electric turbofan engines with afterburners, each capable of 27,000 lb (12,150 kg) of thrust.

These propel the jet to more than twice the speed of sound.

A distinctive feature of the F-14 is its computer-controlled swing wings: Swept forward to 20 degrees for slow speed manoeuvrability, back to 68 degrees at high speed.

But the basic flight controls use old-fashioned cables with no computer interface.

The plane's main role is defence of its carrier battle group against air attack.

But in the mid-1990s it was equipped with LANTIRN navigation and targeting pods to use infrared missiles and laser-guided bombs against ground targets - earning the new nickname "Bomcat".

Another upgrade rushed through in early 2003 allows the F-14 to carry the relatively new, satellite-guided JDAM precision bombs.

Two crew sit in tandem: A pilot and a radar intercept officer.

F-14 Tomcat
Crew:Two
Main weapons:AIM-54 Phoenix missile, AIM 7 Sparrow missile, AIM 9 Sidewinder missile , air-to-ground precision strike ordnance, 1x M61A1/A2 Vulcan 20mm cannon
Max speed:Mach 2
Length:61 ft 9 inches (18.6 m)
Wingspan:64 ft (19 m) unswept, 38 ft (11.4 m) swept
Weight:Weight: 72,900 pounds (32,805 kg)
Source: US Navy





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