The Tomcat is being configured as a potent precision strike-fighter
with the incorporation of the Low-Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared
for Night (LANTIRN) system. With LANTIRN, the Tomcat has an accurate, autonomous
designation and targeting capability for the delivery of laser guided bombs.
system is effective during day or night, and at high altitudes. The first LANTIRN- equipped Tomcat squadron, VF-103, deployed in June 1996 on board Enterprise (CVN 65), and all deploying battle groups will now have LANTIRN-capable Tomcats.
In addition to its precision strike capability, the F-14 is being outfitted with enhanced defensive countermeasure systems (BOL chaff and AN/ALR 67 Radar Warning Receiver), night vision capability, and Global Positioning System (GPS). These systems will significantly enhance the capability of the Tomcat in the strike-fighter role.
The F-14 carrying the Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS) will continue to provide a manned tactical reconnaissance capability. The F-14's "Roadmap for the Future" includes the incorporation of a digital imaging and data link capability in 24 TARPS pods to provide battle group, joint force, and allied commanders with near real-time imagery for the detection and identification of tactical targets, and immediate threat and bomb damage assessment. This unique capability deployed with VF-32 on Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) in November 1996.
The "Roadmap for the Future" also includes a major aircraft safety improvement with the incorporation of a Digital Flight Control System. This system will prevent departure from controlled flight, and will improve F-14 flying qualities during shipboard recovery. Installation will begin in June 1998.
Another innovation in the F-14 community will be the combination of F 14B Upgrade and F-14D aircraft into single "Super" Tomcat squadrons starting in 1999. The major benefit of this plan will be to combine the unique attributes of the F-14D (such as the Advanced Self-Protection Jammer, JTIDS, the AN/APG-71 radar, and the Infrared Search and Track System), with those of F-14B Upgrade aircraft. This F-14B/D squadron mix will be implemented in five carrier air wings.
The F-14's critical role in maintaining air superiority, and its ability
to launch precision guided munitions, will ensure that the aircraft remains
a vital player in the Navy's inventory until its retirement.