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Last F-14 to Fly Combat Mission Comes to NAS Pensacola

Last F-14 to Fly Combat Mission Comes to NAS Pensacola

By Megan Kohr, Naval Air Station Pensacola Public Affairs

Naval Air Station Pensacola, Florida -- (NNS) April 21, 2006 -- The last F-14 Tomcat to fly a combat mission over Iraq made its final flight from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) to Naval Air Station Pensacola April 13.

The last F-14 Tomcat aircraft to fly a combat mission arrives on board Sherman Field at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The F-14D aircraft bureau number 161159, was assigned to the Black Lions of Fighter Squadron Two One three (VF-213), as part of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), embarked aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft will become a display aircraft at the National Museum of Naval Aviation.

Pensacola, Fla. (April 13, 2006) - The last F-14 Tomcat aircraft to fly a combat mission arrives on board Sherman Field at Naval Air Station Pensacola, Fla. The F-14D aircraft bureau number 161159, was assigned to the Black Lions of Fighter Squadron Two One three (VF-213), as part of Carrier Air Wing Eight (CVW-8), embarked aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71). The aircraft will become a display aircraft at the National Museum of Naval Aviation. U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Gary Nichols.

U.S. Navy photo by Mr. Gary Nichols

The Tomcat will be immortalized at the National Museum of Naval Aviation here as the final decommissioning stages close and training for its replacement, the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, continue.

“Bittersweet,” is how Lt. Cmdr. Mark Stufflebeem, the aircraft’s pilot, referred to the final mission. “We were the last aircraft from our squadron to leave, because we’ve had aircraft go to a lot of museums around the country; some of them have gone out to the bone yards to be put to rest.

"We’re the last guys to get to man up one of these planes in our squadron, and that felt pretty good,” Stufflebeem said. “You kind of keep that in the back of your mind every time you touch a button or a switch, pretty much knowing that this is the last time you’re going to do that in this particular aircraft.”

The F-14D, aircraft bureau number 161159, was assigned to the "Black Lions" of Fighter Squadron (VF) 213 as part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, embarked aboard Roosevelt to provide close air support to Marines and Soldiers in Iraq, according to Stufflebeem.

“[The F-14] was a great step forward in the fighter world,” said retired Rear Adm. George Furlong. Furlong was the officer in charge of the fleet introduction team for the F-14 and was the air wing commander of CVW-14 aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65).

“[The F-14 was a] much larger airplane than anything we have ever flown before; a much more complicated airplane, and that finally led to its retirement because it was a very difficult aircraft to maintain, both because of the early technology in the computer age that it was based on and the fact that it was just a very complex airplane to begin with."

A Grumman-built aircraft, the F-14’s main purpose was air-to-air combat, with advanced weapons capabilities. It later evolved into a multimission aircraft. The last leg of the F-14’s purpose became air-to-ground support in its recent deployment to Iraq.

“I do not know if there will ever be another aircraft of this nature that has as significant an impact as it had, not only on the Navy but [also against] our potential threats,” Furlong said. “The aircraft was feared probably more than any other aircraft in existence because it had the over-the-horizon capability."

Patrons of the National Museum of Naval Aviation will soon be able to view the aircraft once it has finished being prepared for display. For more details on when the display will be available, call the National Museum of Naval Aviation at (850) 452-3604.

For related news, visit the Naval Air Station Pensacola Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/naspensacola/.

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Directeur de la publication : Joël-François Dumont
Comité de rédaction : Jacques de Lestapis, Hugues Dumont, François de Vries (Bruxelles), Hans-Ulrich Helfer (Suisse), Michael Hellerforth (Allemagne).
Comité militaire : VAE Guy Labouérie (†), GAA François Mermet (2S), CF Patrice Théry (Asie).

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