The Pentagon is paying a contractor at least $900,000 to destroy old F-14s, a jet affectionately nicknamed “the turkey,” rather than sell the spares at the risk of their falling into the wrong hands, including Iran’s.
Within a workday, a $38 million fighter jet that once soared as a showpiece of U.S. airpower can be destroyed at the Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Ariz., the military’s “boneyard” for retired aircraft.
“There were things getting to the bad guys, so to speak,” said Tim Shocklee, founder and executive vice president of TRI-Rinse Inc. in St. Louis. “And one of the ways to make sure that no one will ever use an F-14 again is to cut them into little 2-by-2-foot bits.”
We want to keep unique F-14 components out of Iran’s hands. As the only other operator of the Tomcat, we have a chance to do that. As I noted back in March:
We’d much rather be facing Iranian F-14s instead of Iranian F-15s. (Now, now, Tomcatters…hear me out!)
What if the Shah had decided to buy the F-15 instead of the F-14? Sure, you could argue that the Tomcat has some advantages over the Eagle, and you’d have a point. But the bigger issue is that of maintenance and operation. The only reason any sort of “embargo” of spare parts to Iran has a prayer of working is because no one else in the world ever owned any F14s. Just about everyone has some F-15s at this point. Even if every nation which operates Eagles made a 100% effort to keep spare parts and knowledgeable personnel from falling into Iranian hands, the sheer scale of the installed base would make acquiring spares and even upgrades fairly easy. 1980 vintage Tomcats or more recent vintage (via upgrades and better maintenance) Eagles?
Despite the fact that we’d just as soon not have to tangle with Iranian Tomcats, the outcome of such encounters is far more certain than it would be against better-maintained Eagles with a larger number of effective support personnel.
We would have zero chance of keeping F-15 spares out of Iran.
Meanwhile, Pinch has some thoughts on Speed! as it applies to naval aviation.