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, and the latter period is the focus of In the Claws of the Tomcat. 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, possibly 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, In the Claws of the Tomcat is an exclusive source of reference about some of least-well known air combats fought by US Navy’s fighter crews in recent history.
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