In the Claws of the Tomcat

US Navy F-14 Tomcat in Combat, 1987-2000

Tom Cooper

From the 1970s until the 2000s, the spear tip of the USN air wings was the F-14 Tomcat. Illustrated by over 100 photographs and colour profiles, ‘Tomcats of the Storm' is an exclusive source about some of least-well known air combats fought by US Navy's fighter crews in recent history.
Date Published :
January 2021
Publisher :
Helion and Company
Series :
Middle East@War
Illustration :
89 b/w photos, 1 color & 6 b/w maps, 3 b/w diagrams, 21 color profiles, 7 tables
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding. : Paperback
ISBN : 9781913118754
Pages : 80
Dimensions : 11.75 X 8.25 inches
Stock Status : Available


Equipped with well-balanced air wings, huge aircraft carriers have formed the backbone of the United States Navy’s doctrine and strategy since the Second World War. Packing an enormous punch, their purpose is to exercise control over enormous portions of airspace – in the offence or defence.

From the mid-1970s until the mid-2000s, the spear tip of the USN air wings was the famous Grumman F-14 Tomcat – widely considered one of the finest air superiority systems in the world. Originally designed as a fast, manoeuvrable and well-armed fighter, the Tomcat entered service as the ultimate long-range fleet defender and became the biggest, most complex and most expensive naval aircraft of its time. Including a unique and exceptional combination of flight characteristics, detection systems and weapons, it earned itself the status of a legend by the mid-1980s.

The F-14 Tomcats of the US Navy achieved their first aerial victories during freedom of navigation exercises off Libya in 1981. However, the period during which they saw most combat followed several years later, during Operations Earnest Will and then Desert Storm, from 1987 until 1991.

To date, very little has been published about the operations in question. Indeed, the widespread belief is that USN F-14s saw next to no air combat against Iran, and even less so during Operation Desert Storm in 1991. As so often, the reality is entirely different: Tomcats engaged dozens of opponents, often on the verge of the engagement envelope of their powerful AWG-9 radars and AIM-54 Phoenix long-range air-to-air missiles, and sometimes at such close ranges that their pilots selected ‘guns’. Weather- and communications-related problems, but also the incredible discipline of their crews prevented them from scoring up to a dozen aerial victories: however, it is perfectly possible that they scored at least one, perhaps more previously entirely unknown aerial victories – and also lost one of their own to an enemy fighter.

Richly illustrated by over 100 photographs and authentic colour profiles, ‘Tomcats of the Storm’ is an exclusive source of reference about some of least-well known air combats fought by US Navy’s fighter crews in recent history.

About The Author

Tom Cooper is an Austrian aerial warfare analyst and historian. Following a career in worldwide transportation business – during which he established a network of contacts in the Middle East and Africa – he moved into narrow-focus analysis and writing on small, little-known air forces and conflicts, about which he has collected extensive archives. This has resulted in specialization in such Middle Eastern air forces as of those of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, and Syria, plus various African and Asian air forces. Except for authoring and co-authoring more than 30 books - including about a dozen of titles for Helion’s @War series - and over 1000 articles, Cooper is a regular correspondent for multiple defense-related publications.


"...a fine work that pays appropriate attention to both human and technical factors influencing U.S. Navy F-14 operations in the Middle East."

- Naval Historical Foundation

"...this is a very useful work for the aviation historian and naval aircraft enthusiast."

- The Northern Mariner

"This is one neat book about F-14 Tomcats and will be of great interest to modelers planning a Tomcat kit and aviation historians alike."

- AMPS Indianapolis

"The 90 black and white photos, six black and white maps, three black and white illustrations, one color map, and 21 color aircraft profiles (US and Iraqi jets) offer a visual guide."

- Historical Miniatures Gaming Society

"Due to his contacts on both sides, Mr. Cooper is able to provide both sides of many of the engagements or near engagements that occurred during this period and in some instances, to finish an unfinished story by telling the other side of the encounter."


"...the book features hundreds of archival photos, some showing the actual aircraft and engagements themselves, as well as beautiful watercolors of all aircraft involved."

- Naval War College Review

"...quite reasonable considering amount of valuable information inside. In my opinion, this book will be useful for all fans of modern aircraft and modelers who plan to build the famous Tomcat. It is good to see such a "focused" books, and I am already looking forward to the next release."

- DetailScaleView

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