YouTube / Air Zoo
Have you ever wondered why you rarely see (if ever) an F-14 Tomcat fly at airshows? Here are four reasons why:
The Tomcat is extremely well-engineered – which is excellent, but it also means that the aircraft can be quite complicated regarding finding spare parts. Most parts aren’t available or manufactured anymore, and selling them is illegal.
Maintaining the Tomcat was notoriously intensive and complicated. The aircraft’s massive frame makes checking, debugging, and fixing any anomalies significantly harder. The bottom line is you’ll need many people to look after the Tomcat, especially when one hour of flight time equates to 60 hours of maintenance.
With virtually no spare parts available, you’ll have a hard time paying for one when it does come along, not to mention the equipment and tooling you’ll need along the way!
One of the primary root causes as to why you’d rarely see an F-14 at an airshow is because of the US relationship with Iran. To stop Iran from being able to maintain its F-14s, there’s been a ban on sales of F-14 parts. The US even destroyed the spare F-14 airframes they had in the inventory just to make sure.