Recipe to Success: How Iran’s F-14 Tomcats Stay Relevant

The old school US supersonic fighter aircraft Grumman F-14 Tomcat was retired by the US Navy on 22 September 2006, yet remains in service with Iran’s air force, having been exported to the country in 1976.

Decades since Iran became the only country besides the United States to operate the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, a swing-wing carrier fighter embellished with a sophisticated radar and long-range AIM-54 Phoenix air-to-air missiles, Tehran has succeeded in maintaining its fleet of F-14s in fighting shape, writes The National Interest.

Iran’s 40 or so surviving F-14s took to the air in several conflicts and after the US Navy retired its last Tomcats in 2006, they remain the only active Tomcats left in the world.

Here are some of the cited reasons why the aged fleet is still to be reckoned with.

Variable Geometry Wings

The F-14 Tomcat’s variable geometry wings, that could be optimized for low speed and high-speed maneuvers, proved to be its ticket to enduring success.

In a feature key for landing on short aircraft carrier decks, the wings would be swept outwards during low-speed flight, providing higher amounts of lift, which was also boosted by the relatively wide fuselage and widely-spaced engines.

A more aerodynamic shape could be adopted by sweeping the Tomcat’s wings inwards at higher speeds, creating a lower-drag.
In cramped conditions of an aircraft carrier deck, the wings of the aircraft could be tucked in still further, allowing for more generous parking space for…

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