Back in the 80's I was away jesting about the F-14 are here to protect the carriers and the carriers to deploy F-14.

I know there are a number of other aircraft here for other purposes but I really don't know the numbers.

So for 1981 what's the proportion of F-14 to other aircrafts and also de percentuals in roles (defence of the fleet, attack, surveillance, etc).

In other words: for US aircraft carriers of that period, what was the aircraft fleet composition?

  • $\begingroup$ Which ship or which class of ships are we talking about here? $\endgroup$ Jun 14, 2018 at 19:34
  • $\begingroup$ @user3528438 All US aircraft carriers ships in service in 1981? en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – jean
    Jun 14, 2018 at 20:34
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    $\begingroup$ This might be useful: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – Steve
    Jun 14, 2018 at 22:48
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    $\begingroup$ F-14s were aboard all large deck carriers, except for the Midway class ships and the training carrier Lexington. $\endgroup$ Jun 15, 2018 at 20:28
  • $\begingroup$ Are you asking about the Embarked Airwing, or about F-14's? $\endgroup$ Jun 18, 2018 at 21:47

1 Answer 1


During the plane’s heyday, the US Navy maintained 26 active duty F-14 squadrons for the 12 carriers certified for F-14 operations, 4 Test and Evaluation squadrons, 2 Fleet Replacement squadrons and 4 Naval Reserve squadrons. 632 F-14s were delivered to the US Navy between 1973 and 1994. Each Forrestal-, Kitty Hawk-, Enterprise-, Kennedy-, and Nimitz-Class carrier had two squadrons of F-14s aboard, with 12 aircraft per squadron. Depending on the cruise air wings aboard, there were approx 85 aircraft aboard ship. This sets the F-14s comprising about 28% of the air wing’s airframes.

The F-14 was used to provide air superiority in the airspace around the battlegroup as well as escorting strike packages and providing a first line of defense against long range enemy interceptors and cruise missiles. Later upgrades as well as the F-14D variant allow for precision strike capability against surface targets as well. The genesis of the AWG-9/AIM-54 weapons system was as a defense against TU-22s carrying Kitchen cruise missiles which had a very real chance of sinking a carrier if the missile found its mark. A secondary role was given to the F-14 in the early 80s as the primary tactical reconnaissance aircraft for the fleet, replacing the aging RA-5C Vigilante and RF-8 Crusader aircraft by means of a removable Tactical Aerial Reconnisance Pod System (TARPS) which mounted on the center body pylons for the AIM-54 missile. Later systems included ROVER pods for precision close air support.

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    $\begingroup$ Not doubting you, but some sources would turn an good answer into a great one. Also, the "TARPS which ovule Mount"... care to fix a typo or two there? $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jun 15, 2018 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ This also doesn't show how these numbers compared to the total naval air fleet. $\endgroup$
    – fooot
    Jun 16, 2018 at 2:17
  • $\begingroup$ en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grumman_F-14_Tomcat $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2018 at 3:31
  • $\begingroup$ Also Robinson, Anthony, US Air Power. $\endgroup$ Jun 16, 2018 at 3:37

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