In 1995 a single F-14D from the Naval Air Warfare Center at Paxtuent River was fitted with a GEC-Marconi/Northrop Grumman/US Navy digital flight control system. Designed to improve flight safety, in particular to reduce the incidence of flat spins, the system is not a fly-by-wire for the Tomcat. Rather it aids stability and suppresses the F-14's nastier flight characteristics without the involvement of the pilot.
After a successful flight test program the decision was made not to install the system, however several F-14 crashes in 1996 meant that funding was issued for FY97 installation. Shore and ship based testing to certify the DFCS on all variants of the Tomcat is all but complete and installation of the units in Fleet Tomcats is due to begin in June of 1998. Present plans envisage around eight aircraft a month being fitted with the system, meaning all F-14's would have DFCS installed by around the turn of the century.
These images come from the F-14 DFCS homepage, online here
All photos are USN copyright.
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