The year 2006 for naval aviation was one of welcome aboard for some and farewell to others. One community-fighter-went away, one-sea control-was being whittled away, and two others-strike-fighter and airborne electronic attack-saw first flights of their next-generation aircraft.
* F-14 Tomcat. After more than eight decades of faithful service, the Navy's pure fighter community is no more. The F-14D Tomcats of VF-213 and VF-31 that returned in March 2006 from duty in the Persian Gulf were the realization of a concept that began at NAVAIR in 1968. Outlasting many other aircraft programs, the Tomcat's longevity was the result of the transformation from a single-mission, air-to-air fighter developed to intercept fast Soviet bombers, to a combat-proven, precision strike/attack aircraft, and digital reconnaissance platform.