Early model F-14A had no nose pitot:

F-14s in the 1970s

F-14s early cruise 1970s

... but they seem to have quickly acquired them sometime in the late 1970s. The Iranian F-14s have them, and it's quite hard to find a picture of an F-14 without a nose pitot.

This is the nose pitot that appears on the majority of F-14s:

US Navy 020319-N-9849W-013 USS Kitty Hawk

I believe the nose pitot measures angle of attack, a measurement I would have thought was critical to a big carrier-based aircraft like the F-14 from the outset.

So, why were the nose pitots introduced, and what effect did it have on the nature of piloting an F-14?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ It might help to provide a picture that specifically shows the feature you're asking about, or mark it on the ones above (please also provide your image sources, by the way). A pitot tube and an angle of attack vane are different things, and it isn't clear to me exactly what you're looking at. $\endgroup$
    – Pondlife
    Apr 24, 2018 at 13:53
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    $\begingroup$ done and done, thanks. $\endgroup$
    – Party Ark
    Apr 24, 2018 at 15:07

1 Answer 1


The probe on the nose isn't a pitot tube (although it might looks like one).

That's an AoA sensor as explained here: Home of M.A.T.S. - Sensor Probes

Reported from the link above:

Angle-of-Attack Nose Probe: The Angle-of-Attack (AOA) is an essential dimension since it measures the angle between the aircraft's vertical flight direction and the vertical wind direction. A too high AOA means that at a given speed the wings will fail to produce lift which will result in a loss of controllability and stability. This is especially important during the landing phase where the aircraft is fairly slow approaching the carrier and also during air combat maneuvering where a loss of controllability can be deadly. Each AOA probe measures the pressure at several points and then the AOA is calculated. Usually, several AOA probes are installed to measure a correct AOA. Note that this probe was not installed on very early F-14As

The same site, on a related page, report what you've alredy found:

The first fleet Tomcats were not equipped with any nose probe, but todays F-14s carry a small nose probe to gather air pressure data to calculate the angle-of-attack

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    $\begingroup$ Thanks - the part I'm struggling to understand is how an aircraft like the F-14 coped without an AoA sensor; or, if it had one (presumably it did), why was there a need for a newer one? $\endgroup$
    – Party Ark
    Apr 25, 2018 at 11:02
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    $\begingroup$ @PartyArk, if you open the first link, sensors referenced by points 3 and 5 are also AoA sensors, so even early F-14s already had not one but two AoA sensors. :-) $\endgroup$ Apr 26, 2018 at 7:32
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, I see that, but I'm still not sure why they felt the need to introduce an extra one? $\endgroup$
    – Party Ark
    May 26, 2018 at 10:53
  • $\begingroup$ @PartyArk: Extra redundancy, perhaps? $\endgroup$
    – Vikki
    Jun 14, 2018 at 20:00
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    $\begingroup$ Now I am wondering how that probe works. Normally an AoA probe is either a vane—which obviously needs to be on the side—or several pressure sensors around a curved wing leading edge. I have trouble understanding on what principle a pointy sensor could measure AoA (as opposed to dynamic pressure, which is then converted to equivalent airspeed). $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Jun 15, 2018 at 18:47

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