Watch this rare footage featuring some interesting images taken from aboard an F-14 Tomcat by using the TCS (Television Camera Set).
Filmed by Dave “Bio” Baranek, author of the book Topgun Days: Dogfighting, Cheating Death and Hollywood Glory as One of America’s Best Fighter Jocks, and a twenty-year experienced Tomcat Radar Intercept Officer (RIO), from onboard his F-14 making use of the television camera set (TCS) mounted in the chin pod, this clip shows 2,5 minutes of video of Tomcats flying with US Navy Fighter Squadron 2 (VF-2) Bounty Hunters around 1989.
As explained by Bio himself, the story behind this video is quite interesting: “I have to say that the opening segment (head-on pass) was a boring ‘1v1’ during deployment, so the comm is kind of sloppy, because we were basically fooling around. But when we got back to the ready room and looked at the video, I thought, ‘That is a keeper!'”
The TCS was a camera that could be slaved to the radar antenna providing a gray-scale visual image to the aircrew. Even if it had a fairly limited field of view and was heavily affected by atmospheric haze, the TCS was one of the F-14’s most interesting system. Being integrated into the weapons system in fact, it was useful in many scenarios: although the television camera set was most useful at high altitude where the air is clear, it delivered to the Tomcat aircrew a unique first sight-first shot capability given the fact that the aircrew could visually identify (VID) hostile aircraft at a greater distance than using eyeballs alone.
Other interesting segments of the video show four Tomcats sweeping their wings, and a cool F-14 night catapult shot from USS Ranger using maximum afterburner.
Interesting how useful a video camera can be, particular when slaved to a radar and with high-power optics. It puts a visual to that radar blip.
In the late 1960s, I was a co-op engineering student working at Eglin AFB. Two of my assignments were at a site (A-20) with four FPS-16 radars that were being used to test laser-guided bombing systems. The radar dishes had video cameras aimed where the radar was looking and the bombing ranges were close enough to get a quite good view of the aircraft as they made their bombing runs. It was much like the video above.
The same radars were used during Mercury and Gemini to track the astronauts. You can see the console and gear here.
More history here:
nice video, these birds were retired to soon, especially the D variant. they worked really well in “the danger zone”.
I think they should make a movie about the a 80’s Nimitz class CVN going forward in time to bail out a future US Navy bogged down with F-35’s.