US Navy Fighter Squadron 31 (VF-31) Tomcatters was the new designation given to VF-3A on August 7th, 1948. The squadron transitioned from the F6F Hellcat through the F9F Panther, F2H Banshee, F3H Demon and F-4 Phantom II before upgrading to the F-14 Tomcat in 1981. The Tomcatters deployed several times with the F-14 on various Nimitz Class carriers. They deployed with the F-14 for the last time aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt in 2005 as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was during this deployment that VF-31 became the last F-14 squadron to drop a bomb in combat. The squadron returned home in 2006 and and transitioned to the F/A-18E Super Hornet, being redesignated Strike Fighter Squadron 31 (VFA-31).
Designed to carry the formidable long range AIM-54 Phoenix missile, the Grumman F-14 Tomcat was first flown on December 21st, 1970. Made famous by the Hollywood film Top Gun, the F-14 replaced the F-4 Phantom II as the US Navy's primary maritime air superiority fighter. Its design includes a variable geometry wing that can sweep back for high speed supersonic intercepts and forward for improved positioning in air to air dogfights. Nicknamed "Bombcat," the F-14 spent much of its late career in an air-to-ground role, carrying the Low Altitude Navigation and Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) system.