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The F-14 was designed at the height of the Cold War to protect the Navy's supercarriers from long range Soviet bombers.
The Tomcat's AWG-9 and Phoenix missile combination is capable of tracking and engaging targets at ranges never before possible.
Beginning in 1981, the F-14 also serves as the carrier air wing reconnaissance aircraft with the Tactical Air Reconnaissance Pod System (TARPS). TARPS is a combination of vertical, oblique and panoramic cameras as well as an infra red scanner. While every F-14 can be wired for TARPS, usually two or three aircraft per air wing were used for that role.
When the Cold War came to a close, the F-14 assumed another role, that of attack aircraft. The F-14 was designed with the ability to drop bombs, but it was not until the early-90s that the Navy pursued it. With the addition of the Lantirn targeting pod and various software upgrades, the F-14 began to take over some of the carrier Air Wings bombing duties and quickly received acclaim for action over Bosnia and Kosovo.