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Dillon

An all to common problem, enter the 757 and F-14

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Premature Decommissioning...

 

Both Jets are/were outstanding with no real competition in their arena yet phased out for lesser products.  It's sad when in comparison aircraft like the C130 and B-52 are still in service today in the role and organizations they started with.

 

 

F-14  - Let's face it the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is no F-14.  These jets aren't as fast as the F-14 and on many fronts when it comes to weapons options and range it's not even a competition.  Just like the B-52 the F-14 could have been upgraded in many areas including newer avionics and more fuel efficient engines hence taking the Iranian component off the table (Iran has F-14's given before the Shah stepped down but a re-tooled version of the F-14 would have taken commonality off the table).  Dick Cheney hated the F-14 (researching I found this fact) which is why the Navy had to opt for a replacement.  The Super Hornet could take claim as a better dog fighter but in the intercept role you need raw speed.  The Phoenix missile allowed for superior beyond visual range neutralization of targets unrivaled by anything we've yet seen, something the Super Hornet is incapable of. Strike Fighters 2: North Atlantic lead me to this topic as my old love of combat sims has recently been rediscovered.  It was with this that it hit me (I was in a real world F/18 squadron) from first hand experience the F-18 in no form could beat what the F-14 was outside of ease of maintenance for the crews. Put the facts aside (as there are more) the F-14 is the greatest aviation icon the US Navy had, right up there with the Blue Angels.  As a prior Navy guy I'm thankful for the glory days of San Diego, Miramar, and Top Gun.  That was one era you had to be there to appreciate especially now that it's gone.  

 

 

757 - Hands down the 737-900ER is by no means a straight out replacement for the 757, heck on all levels it's really no direct replacement at all.  It's like replacing a BMW with a Ford Focus.  The versatility of the 757 is second to none.  It can be used for short haul, long haul and everything in between. Time to altitude is unrivaled and if fuel is a problem new engines could have been developed (hence the A320neo, 737MAX).  In the reverse Boeing over did it with the 757 in their replacement of the 727.  There's not much to be said here, as we can see FedEx is gobbling them up.  FedEx can use them for flights as short as KMEM to KIND and as long as KLAX to PHNL or longer.  You can't get those flight options and the cargo load on a comparable 737-900ER let alone the passenger variant.  On a personal note the 757 is a blast to fly on as long as the inner panels don't come apart in flight :P (actually the AA incident is the only one of it's kind that I've heard of).  

 

 

I'll let others chime in about these two great aircraft.  The 757 and F-14 had allot of life left in them for what they were tasked to do.  I get phasing out aging aircraft for full replacements but prematurely doing away with platforms for lesser options is pretty insane.  It's apparent the bean counters aren't aviation enthusiast just the same a re-engined 757 would seem cheaper than a new requested 737-900ER (up from the standard -900 to replace the 757) that offers less performance and all around is a lesser aircraft.  If it takes longer to get to altitude that's more fuel spent.  In the case of the Super Hornet, if it takes longer to get to target or it can't reach the same target the F-14 could reach without a mid-air fuel stop (which slows the whole sortie down) why do away with the more capable aircraft?  Things that make you wonder I guess... B)

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Nice post Dillon. I can only add a small bit to your observations. The wisdom that newer is not always better. Same kind of BS is going on with the A-10. With the military it seems more of a who is on the 'inside' and who they are connected to on the 'outside' when it comes to questionable deals. The new ploy seems to be, "let's let it fall into the wrong hands so we'll have to replace it", tactic.

 

Regards,

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The F-14 is by far my favorite child hood aircraft but lost its edge. It's old, not maneuverable and all it can claim over the super hornet is speed. The F-18 can do a lot more and do it better. It can dig fight its way to what it wants to bomb and doc fight its way back home. It's more manuverable and can just do so many roles and do them well. The Phoenix missle had a huge array of issues. It operated nothing like its mythical status suggests. It was innacurate, a maintenance nightmare and was originally conceived as a nuclear tipped squadron killer not a precision intercept missle. The F-14 was awesome for it's time but it got old and was surpassed by a better plane.

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From what I've read the F-14 was a nightmare to maintain - particularly the avionics - and was very expensive to operate. These I believe were the main factors driving its retirement.

 

As for the AIM-54, Swofford hit the nail on the head. It's a weapon that looks awesome on paper, but in practice was actually of very limited application. Those 100+ mile ranges were only possible in the most favourable conditions and even then missile itself would only have enough energy to intercept a target that was obliging enough to fly straight and level and not try to evade. I understand the latter part of the F-14's career only rarely saw it carrying the AIM-54.

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While the F14 is quite the speedster, It wasn't very maneuverable. And parroting what Nick said, They were indeed a hassle to maintain.

 

 

 

On the 757, I agree on every point. the 900ER is just weak. The trust to weight ratio and range compared to the Pencil-Jet is just lame.

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I think the USN were pretty smart and were playing the long game. They knew it would be increasingly unfeasible to operate carrier decks packed with so many disparate airframes each with unique roles.

 

If you look at the USN carrier deck in the mid to late 80's it had F-14A, F-14B, F/A-18A, F/A-18C, A-6E, EA-6B, KA-6D, S-3B, E-2C... and that's just the fixed wing.

 

Twenty years later it had the F/A-18E/F, F/A-18C, EA-6B (to be replaced with EA-18G), and the E-2C.

 

That's a huge rationalisation of types which makes the whole organisation that much more efficient and cheaper, not to mention the added flexibiliy of a carrier packed with swing role fighters. Finally, the Super Hornet is quite a rare thing in modern defence procurement - a fighter that comes in on-spec and under-budget. Not a bad thing at all.

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