The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American Supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, Variable-sweep wing fighter Aircraft. It was the first such U.S. jet fighter with twin tails. The Tomcat was developed for the US Navy’s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American Teen series fighters, which were designed incorporating air combat experience against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.
The F-14 first flew on 21 December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise, replacing the F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime Air Superiority Fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and tactical Aerial reconnaissance platform into the 2000s. The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system were added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions.
In the 1980s, F-14s were used as land-based interceptors by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force during the Iran-Iraq war, where they saw combat against Iraqi warplanes. Iranian F-14s reportedly shot down at least 160 Iraqi aircraft during the war, while only 12 to 16 Tomcats were lost; at least half of these losses were due to accidents.
The Tomcat was retired by U.S. Navy on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-14 remains in service with Iran’s air force, having been exported to Iran in 1976. In November 2015, reports emerged of Iranian F-14s flying escort for Russian Tupolev Tu-95, Tu-160, and Tu-22M bombers on airstrikes in Syria.