The U.S. Navy has ended combat deployments for the F-14 Tomcat fighter jet, the plane glamorized in the movie “Top Gun.” The last of the jets will be flown into retirement in September.
Six hundred and thirty-two of the twin-engine, swing-wing fighters were built for the Navy by Northrop Grumman Corp., according to the Century City company. The planes entered service in the early 1970s, and the latest version, the F-14D, began flying off Navy aircraft carriers in the early 1990s.
The aircraft, designed to be long-range interceptors of enemy aircraft and missiles at a distance of as much as 110 miles, will be replaced by Boeing Co.'s F/A-18 Super Hornet, said Mike Maus, a spokesman for Naval Air Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet.
“It was a great airplane for its day, but it’s time for it to be replaced,” said Philip Grandfield, a retired Navy captain who flew the F-14 off carriers Independence and Theodore Roosevelt to enforce the “no-fly zone” in southern Iraq after the Persian Gulf War in 1991.
Maus said the fighter squadron VF-213 would immediately begin preparing to take delivery of the Super Hornets, while squadron VF-31 would continue flying F-14s until some time in August.
Both squadrons are based at Oceana Naval Air Station in Virginia Beach, Va., and attached to the Roosevelt, he said.
The two squadrons will return to Oceana on March 10, as the Roosevelt returns from a six-month deployment, Maus said. Some of the F-14s will be transferred to the “boneyard” at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, some to communities for museums and the rest destroyed, he said.