Carrier Air Wing Eight CVW8 Work-Ups at Naval Air Station Fallon NAS, Nevada - Final Deployment of the F-14 Tomcat
AJ111, BuNo 159600 was delivered as a block 85 F-14A model to the US Navy on 16 July 1975. Initial assignments were to train nugget Tomcat crews in both the east and west coast Fleet Readiness Squadrons; VF-124 Gunfighters at NAS Miramar and VF-101 Grim Reapers at NAS Oceana. In 1987, 159600 transferred to the fleet, serving, in order, with VF-142 Ghostriders, VF-14 Tophatters and again with VF-142 Ghostriders with at NAS Oceana.
In the early 1990's, 159600 would be at NADEP Norfolk undergoing remanufacture into an F-14D(R). Emerging in 1994 as the fifth remanufactured D model Tomcat, 159600 would rejoin the fleet in 1994 with VF-2 Bounty Hunters at NAS Miramar. During this tour, NAS Miramar transferred to the Marine Corps and 159600 and the rest of the VF-2 Bounty Hunters relocated to NAS Oceana. In 2003, 159600 once more serve in Fleet Readiness Squadron VF-101 Grim Reapers. The following year, 159600 would be assigned to VF-31 Tomcatters where she would remain until the Tomcat's retirement in September 2006.
While participating in the Tomcat's final cruise from September 2005 to March 2006, 159600 would suffer a structural failure. During routine maintenance a bulkhead would blow out and she would spend most of the next few months in the hangar, earning her the nickname "Christine". Eventually 159600 would be repaired. Once returned to flight status 159600 would become a squadron workhorse for the remainder of the deployment, a testament to both her Grumman "Ironworks" legacy and the fine men and women who have maintained the F-14 Tomcat. After more than 30 years of service, F-14D(R) 159600 would finish her career with the singular distinction of being the longest serving F-14 Tomcat in the US Navy's inventory, and proudly earn the right to claim "Anytime, Baby"!