Captain Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, U.S. Navy (Ret.)
former Commander Fighter Wing Atlantic with 4,800h in the F-14
The F-14 Tomcat website "HOME OF M.A.T.S." is the most complete aircraft related site I've visited. It is truly a full spectrum online reference site that chronicles one of the world's best carrier based fighters, from historical background to technical data as well as tactical analysis and the best Tomcat photo album available, it's definitely the site to take an internet TOMCAT flight!!
Capt. Dale "Snort" Snodgrass, U.S. Navy (Ret.), June 2001
Having spent the majority of my adult life in the cockpit of the F-14 it's a privilege to author this Foreword for Torsten Anft. It seems like yesterday that I entered Naval Flight Training and striving to not only earn my Wings of Gold but be selected for Fighters. My hard work paid off as did my closest friend through Flight School and we became the very first "Nuggets" to be selected for Tomcats. My Tomcat career spanned a quarter of a century and allowed me to become the high time Tomcat Pilot with over 4800 hours in type and 1200 plus arrested landings. Squadron tours included VF-124 (initial Training), VF-142, VF-101 (Instructor), VF-41 (CAG LSO), VF-43 (Adversary Pilot), VF-143, VF-101 (XO/Instructor), VF-33 (XO/CO). As Commanding Officer of VF-33 I had the privilege of leading my Squadron in Combat during Desert Storm. My Combat sorties included leading 34 strikes into western and central Iraq. In 1994 I took Command of Fighter Wing Atlantic and the NAS Oceana based F-14 Squadrons. In 1995 the West Coast based Squadrons were single sited to Oceana and I gained Command of the entire Tomcat Community. Some how I had managed to percolate to the top of the Tomcat pyramid!!!!!
Indeed the F-14 is one of the world's premier fighter aircraft. The biggest factors that separate the Tomcat from other fighters are aside from the obvious size, it was designed exclusively as an air superiority fighter. It has more loiter time, more range, etc. All of the peer planes are great airplanes and they've all done a great job, but the F-14 has been around longer than any of them. From a designer's perspective, it's the most archaic of the group, although it has design features that make it superior in many respects. From a flight control perspective, avionics, etc., it's all 1960s technology, but it still probably has the longest range, is the fastest, and can carry the most ordnance of the whole group, save the F-15E. It's also the "trickiest" airplane to fly... it has the least pleasant flight controls of most modern jets. However, with its wings, flaps, etc. you can make it do things that the others just can't. The GE F110 engines certainly gave the airplane a lot of new life in the dogfight arena, and it brought it up to a level of thrust that the airframe was really designed for. The older engines were a result of politics and other factors, so the new engines made you feel like you were flying a rocketship! Also, the avionics upgrade was in the F-14D and that was a significant enhancement in air-to-air capability. The biggest capability upgrade was the LANTIRN pod and putting the aircraft into a world class precision strike role, and this all occurred at Naval Air Station Oceana while I was there. Martin Marietta, now Lockheed Martin, sent some representatives up by invitation, gave us a LANTIRN pod to work with, and contributed some very smart people resources. I gathered some of my best people to work on the project, and in six months we went from an informal handshake to actually dropping laser-guided bombs from the F-14. I dropped a bomb from 18,000 ft and 22 miles away that blew the top off a tank at the Vieques range off of Puerto Rico. One year after that concept discussion in my office, the LANTIRN capability deployed with VF-103 to the Med and Gulf.
The Tomcat's future will bring significant performance improvements during the next years, including through-the-weather precision strike capability. This makes it the platform of choice for all-weather, day or night and deep strike
for years to come! When the mighty F-14 is phased out of service, it will have served the Navy for nearly four decades ... That is as long as if World War II Hellcats had been in service to fight the Libyan MiGs in 1980!
Thumbs up for this great piece of internet reference work. Torsten Anft has compiled a very well-researched source of reference to many Tomcat enthusiasts around the world!