F-14 Tomcat


The F-14 flew 28 times from a ski jump but never achieved maximum take-off capability because of single-engine operating concerns

The interesting photo in this post was taken in 1982 at Naval Air Test Center, Patuxent River, Md. and shows the left-side view of an F-14A Tomcat fighter aircraft taking off from a ramp, raised nine degrees, during “ski-jump” feasibility tests.

The ski-jump tests, which involved also the T-2, F/A-18, and AV-8 Harrier, were conducted in an effort to reduce the length of the carrier flight deck needed for an aircraft to become airborne—without the aid of a catapult.

According to The Patuxent River Naval Air Museum, flight tests showed that the basic theory was sound: all aircraft tested took off in significantly shorter distances than they could from flat decks. But except for the AV-8 Harrier, none of these aircraft ever flew from ski-jump-equipped carriers. In fact the upward push of the ski-jump means that aircraft structures need to be stronger to bear the extra launch loads. This could lead to aircraft that “weigh—and cost—more.”

Actually the F-14 flew 28 times from a ski-jump but never achieved maximum take-off capability because of single-engine operating concerns.

Source: U.S. Navy; Photo credit: PH3 Ron Vest / U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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