VF-68 was created at NAS Miramar on October 3, 1969 flying the F-4B. Six months after the squadron’s activation, they deployed for the first time to Southeast Asia. This would be the first of many deployments. The Black Sabers, fought with distinguished service, and demonstrated how valuable they were to the United States armed forces.
In the closing days of the war, as squadrons began receiving the brand new Grumman F-14 Tomcat, VF-68 got the nod. Air frame conversion training began in the spring of 1976, and started a new era for The Black Sabers.
Through the next several decades, The Black Sabers deployed frequently, gaining experience and being publicly recognized as a formidable force. Their time to shine would come again in Desert Storm while flying CAP in the Persian Gulf. VF-68, is credited with the shoot-down of 2 Iraqi Su-22s en route to attack Kuwaiti oil terminals. From there, many sorties were flown in the Kosovo Theater of Operation tasked with attacking Serbian targets and working to prevent the genocide. Operations, continued with participation in Northern Watch, OEF, and OIF. The Black Sabers’ focus was on the air-to-air mission using the powerful and robust AWG-9 to locate and destroy aircraft.
Whether running intercepts, flying a BARCAP or directing other fighters, the Tomcat can do it all. In addition to the A2A capability, the F-14 is a very capable mud mover as well. Equipped with the Martin Marrietta LANTIRN targeting system, the aircraft can employ PGMs itself or act as the targeting system for other aircraft.
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The Grumman F-14 Tomcat is an American supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. It was the first such U.S. jet fighter with twin tails. The Tomcat was developed for the United States Navy‘s Naval Fighter Experimental (VFX) program after the collapse of the F-111B project. The F-14 was the first of the American Teen Series fighters, which were designed incorporating air combat experience against MiG fighters during the Vietnam War.
The F-14 first flew on 21 December 1970 and made its first deployment in 1974 with the U.S. Navy aboard USS Enterprise (CVN-65), replacing the McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II. The F-14 served as the U.S. Navy’s primary maritime air superiority fighter, fleet defense interceptor, and tactical aerial reconnaissanceplatform into the 2000s. The Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) pod system were added in the 1990s and the Tomcat began performing precision ground-attack missions.
In the 1980s, F-14s were used as land-based interceptors by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force during the Iran–Iraq War, where they saw combat against Iraqi warplanes. Iranian F-14s reportedly shot down at least 160 Iraqi aircraft during the war, while only 12 to 16 Tomcats were lost; at least half of these losses were due to accidents.
The Tomcat was retired from the U.S. Navy’s active fleet on 22 September 2006, having been supplanted by the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet. The F-14 remains in service with Iran’s air force, having been exported to Iran in 1976. In November 2015, reports emerged of Iranian F-14s reportedly flying escort for Russian Tu-95 bombers on air strikes in Syria.