In this rare footage the Gruman F-14 fires six Phoenix missiles and assigns them to six individual targets. This was the primary reason the Navy chose the F-14 as a fleet defender. It turned out that only 4 drones were destroyed due to failures with the drones but the results gave the system a rating of 80%.
The aircraft that took part in the live missile firing program were two: F-14A-15-GR, BuNo 157983 (the fourth Tomcat built), and F-14A-40-GR, BuNo 157988 (the ninth Tomcat built).
The AIM-54 launches from Tomcat started on Apr. 28, 1972, against a wide variety of (simulated) target types, such as cruise missiles, high altitudes bombers, and fast maneuvering fighters. One-shot also occurred from an extreme distance, when an F-14 engaged and shot down a target drone from a distance of 120 miles (193 km).
The final test was conducted on Nov. 21, 1973, when the so called six-on-six missile shot took place. That day Commander John R. “Smoke” Wilson Jr. and his Radar Intercept Office (RIO) Lieutenant Commander Jack Hawver, the crew who carried the whole Phoenix test campaign, took off from Point Mugu (where it was based the Pacific Missile Test Center, the former name of the current Naval Air Warfare Center) with their F-14 armed with a complete Phoenix load: four were on pallets in the semi-submerged wells in the underside of the fuselage and two more AIM-54s were mounted one on each wing station pylon. This time they had to launch their six missiles against six different targets simultaneously.
Once Wilson and Hawver reached 25,000 feet of altitude, they launched all six missiles over a period of 38 seconds. The targets against which the AIM-54s were launched were three QT-33s (the drone version of the old jet trainer), two aerial target BQM-34As and one BQM-34E. Wilson launched the first Phoenix, while Hawver launched missiles two through five, with the last AIM-54 launched again by Wilson. The missiles were in flight together under guidance from the fire control system in the Tomcat and four targets, which were simulating bombers (two QT-33s, one of the BQM-34As and the BQM-34E), were directly hit. The other BQM-34A experienced a failure at the flight control module which led the Phoenix radar to break lock, while the last AIM-54 missed the last QT-33 due to a failure of the Phoenix radar antenna.
As also the following video (which actually is the original six-on-six missile shot clip) shows, the test ended with a score of four direct hits, with one AIM-54 missing its target due to the BQM-34A avionics breakdown.
The six-on-six missile shot was considered a huge success, since demonstrated that both the F-14 Tomcat and the AIM-54 Phoenix missile were ready to enter active service.