The F-14's Central Air Data Computer was a innovative design, using microprocessors for its implementation. This computer was used to control the swing wings of the F-14.

How did the contemporary aircraft to the F-14 achieve the same functionality? There were many variable-sweep wing aircraft constructed in the 60's and 70's such as the Mig-23 and the Su-17.


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    $\begingroup$ If you think that was innovative, the RIO's target display system was based on two Intel 8088 microprocessors and no math coprocessor(s). All the math was table-driven. Think about it -- tracking up to... what was it... 12? targets at the same time with a slide ruler. That was not coding, that was art. :) (Yes, I worked on this subsystem at Hughes Aircraft Company's Radar Systems Group at El Segundo, but I worked on self-test code verification.) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 8, 2017 at 6:33
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    $\begingroup$ @JuanJimenez Even now, many programs for embedded systems will use lookup tables for trigonometric functions and the like, so it's not a lost art just yet. $\endgroup$
    – JAB
    Commented Apr 11, 2017 at 17:30
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    $\begingroup$ @JAB Warms my dark PL/M heart to hear that. LOL! $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 12, 2017 at 19:41
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    $\begingroup$ I don't think there were any other variable-sweep aircraft with automatic sweep control. Later versions of Tornado had the feature but it was reportedly hardly ever used. MiG-23 and Su-17 are not directly comparable to F-14: these were (conceptually) cheap mass warplanes, unlike the very sophisticated F-14. Su-24 (a counterpart to F-111) had a high level of sophistication, but its sweep control was still manual. Traditionally, control automation is not a Russian forte (in aviation - as contrasts sharply with Russian spacecraft!). $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Commented Apr 13, 2017 at 3:47
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    $\begingroup$ @Zeus - Soviet nuclear attack subs were also heavily automated at times. The famous titanium-hulled Alfa's had just 31 crew members (all officers). The entire rear half (reactor and machinery) was basically unmanned. This reclaimed a lot of space/weight (just 2300 tons surfaced). This light hull, coupled with a reactor more powerful those on subs twice its size, allowed the Alfas to push incredible speeds $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 9:49

1 Answer 1



For the MiG-23, it was manual.

[The] MiG-23 had a completely manual wing sweep control. But there was no gauge to indicate optimum wing position for the surrounding conditions. "You had to manually put the wings into position to safely fly the airplane," (...) "They had a very nice gauge that showed where the wings were commanded to, where the wings actually were if they were still in motion, and what the Mach limit was associated with that wingsweep position."

Red Eagles: America’s Secret MiGs p.176

From Wikipedia we learn the sweep steps were 16°, 45°, and 72° – for one of the variants at least – which makes it easy to find that gauge. Here it is magnified below with the limiting Mach number (M2.35) and Velocity (1400 km/h indicated; 756 KIAS) for the current selected max sweep of 72°.

enter image description here


It started as a two-position wing, then it was upgraded1 so that the wing can stop anywhere between 30° and 63°. This improved the flight range.

Below, КРЫЛО means wing. And ОТКЛ means off, or deactivate (ОТКЛЮЧИТЬ). This leads me to conclude it too was manual despite the advanced avionics the Su-17 family carried.

enter image description here
(primeportal.net) The wing control switch and position indicator are on the left glareshield.

  • $\begingroup$ While I like your answer, these two aircraft were hardly designed for the same mission requirement as the F-14. $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 1:15
  • $\begingroup$ @KorvinStarmast that may be the case, but this does answer the question as asked. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan Yes, and thus did not attract any down vote from me. :-) $\endgroup$ Commented Apr 25, 2017 at 13:57

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