Grumman F-14 Tomcat in US Navy Service


Armed with three missiles under each wing, (some official schemes show two more under the fuselage), the Missileer would probably have been a good platform for the specific mission to intercept enemy bombers, but would have been unable to maneuver in combat properly, especially against the MiG, since it was a true “missile truck”.
Additionally, there were development problems with the missile and as a result, the Eagle never entered service. In December 1960, the XF6D-1 Missileer was canceled with all discretion.
The economic climate of the 60 saw a new awareness of the economy emerge among the members of Congress and the Department of Defense. According to this new policy, greater versatility began to be practiced in terms of capacity that began to affect decisions related to contracts. One of the first to fall under detailed scrutiny was precisely the Douglas Missileer program.
In December 1960 and after months of analysis, the contract with Douglas was canceled by the current Secretary of Defense, Thomas Gates, mainly on the grounds that the overall capabilities of the project were too limited. This was highlighted by the fact that the Missileer was considered unacceptable to escort attack aircraft (it was very slow) and was unable to defend itself, once it had launched its missiles, since it had no cannon and its maneuverability was limited However, the US Navy still needed a FADF.

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The McNamara effect
The idea that the USAF and the US Navy use the same type of aerial platforms, weapons and systems is not new. In view of the astronomical costs demanded by the design of specific models for each service, the US Secretaries of Defense and Congressmen have long pursued that goal.
On January 20, 1961, John F. Kennedy took over the presidency of the United States. As a member of his government, he took charge of the Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara, who brought a new word; commonality
This idea had been around the Department of Defense for a good number of years, but its application in practice had always been difficult. The idea applied to the acquisition of aircraft, involved the design of an aircraft capable of performing many tasks with the same ease for the air force as for the navy. At that time there were two major defense requirements for the impending future.
The first was the SOR-183 specification of the USAF, aimed at replacing the F-105 Thunderchief. Issued in June 1960, it requested a tactical attack fighter, which was later named Tactical Fighter Experimental (TFX). The specifications were demanding, including a low-speed speed of 1.2 Mach, a speed at altitude and 2.5 Mach, a radius of action with internally transported weapons of 1,475 km. (800 nautical miles). Good landing characteristics were also requested in short fields and a ferry flight range, enough to cross the Atlantic without refueling. This last requirement was clearly applicable to a fighter, an FADF type aircraft, which could fill the gap left by the Missileer’s cancellation.

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Meanwhile, the National Administration for Aeronautics and Space (NASA) had been conducting studies on the variation of the arrow angle of the aircraft, a configuration that would be coined with the term “variable geometry” and had reached quite interesting conclusions. These were materialized in a theoretical fighter model, based on tunnel experimentation, which was called LFAX-4. This incorporated characteristics clearly evident in the final F-14. The truth is that variable geometry was one of those suggestive aeronautical concepts that got into public opinion and became fashionable.
In mid-1959, NASA technicians offered a conference to a group of senior US Navy officers about the progress made in the knowledge of the phenomena associated with the variable arrow and its application to a hypothetical design of the same weight as the Missileer that He had proposed. A performance potential was demonstrated that could overcome any project under consideration at that time. NASA repeated the call with the staff of the USAF Tactical Air Command. In this case, the comparison was made with the requirements still partially formulated SOR-183. Impressed, both the USAF and the US Navy granted individual contracts to the industrial sector to conduct studies in this regard.
It was at this time when the innovative McNamara became Secretary of Defense, who thought that both of the requirements had much in common. The cargo capacity of the TFX could match the need for FADF missile loading, while the long TFX ferry could match the extended patrol capacity of the naval aircraft. Both needed high speed at altitude and had a similar requirement to use short tracks. Probably what McNamara did not perceive is that SOR-183 requested an attack aircraft.
Possibly, with his professional past at Ford Motors in mind and convinced that a single type of tactical aircraft could take on both missions, McNamara issued a formal recommendation on February 14, 1961, instructing the USAF and the US Navy to merge into a only document SOR-183 and FADF, under the nomenclature TFX. The claim was to save the taxpayer several hundred million dollars in development costs, with a minimum operational impact for both versions of the aircraft. The savings should come from the concept called “communality”, whereby both versions would share the same cell and engines, but would have different avionics to fulfill their respective missions. As with many innovative ideas, “commonality” was an outstanding theory, but impossible to materialize with the state of the art of technology and methodologies of the moment.

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