Test & Evaluation Equipment|
Since the first Tomcat was flown, several modifications and special equipment were used on Grumman, Navy and NASA F-14s to gather certain flight data and photography or to make test flights safer.
Cameras | Gun Gas Exhaust Modifications
Also, on several occasions, the rear ejection seat and instrumentation were removed (see below: the very right Aileron Rudder Interconnect photo) for test flights to give room for additional special equipment. At least on one flight a special dummy RIO was placed on the rear ejection seat during ground attack capability testing. The purpose of the dummy is unknown.
First and most visible were nose probes on the very early F-14 prototypes. These were approximately 3 meters (10 ft) long and equipped with several pressure probes and angle of attack/wind direction indicators.
Fleet F-14s have no such nose probes. The first fleet Tomcats were not equipped with any nose probe, but todays F-14s carry a small nose probe to gather air pressure data to calculate the angle-of-attack.
Spin Recovery Chute:
During early testing of the F-14 at Grumman and during the phase when NASA flew the Tomcat, a special spin recovery chute was installed at the aft of the beaver tail. In case a spin should occur that could not be recovered by pilot action, the chute would have been deployed and thus the aircraft would have been recovered to a stable flight condition. Until today, flat spins are a bad habbit of the F-14 ...
Aileron Rudder Interconnect:
Noteworthy is a special NASA modification to F-14A BuNo 157991, called ARI (Aileron Rudder Interconnect). ARI was a test for a flight control system and included extensive modifications to the analog flight control system plus movable "canards" on the nose. The canards were normally retracted and were only deployed if the spin recovery chute was activated. With the ARI, NASA test pilot Einar Enevoldson and Grumann pest pilot Chuck Sewell both recovered from spins up to 90°/sec yaw rate.
The cameras are used to verify safe store separation. It is vital that any weapons (bombs and missiles) get away from the aircaft safely and cleanly. Therefore several cameras can be carried: One camera in the nose (chin pod looking aft), one in each wing tip, a mount capable of up to four cameras on stations 1B and/or 8B, fuel tank camera pods capable of up to four cameras each or an external mount capable of the same on stations 2 and 7, two tail cameras (one on each side of the arresting hook), and an external camera mounted to any unused weapon station.
Gun gas exhaust modifications:
The red covers over the cooling air intakes/gun gas exhausts protect non-standard instrumentation systems. During testing and evaluation it is not unusual to remove entire gun systems in order to make room for instrumentation packages. The air flow through the muzzle port and exhaust ports could affect the additional instrumentation so they are closed off.
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