The Hornet lacks the range to operate properly in the Pacific. The F-14D had like 50% more range than even the Super Hornet. But cutting the F-14D was never about capabilities, it was all about money.
It was exactly about the money because when they pitched the Hornet it was modern and digital and easy to upgrade and fix so maintenance costs were going to be cheap and they were not... if the Tomcat was viable the Navy would refuse to pay the ridiculous costs asked for the Super Hornet which was shockingly expensive... until the F-35 came along of course and made it look affordable.
Anything they could have put into a Hornet or Super Hornet they could have put on a Tomcat that was bigger and better.
Iran had the f-14. It was just a matter of time before soviet and chinese got a full access to it.
The Chinese got the full plans for the F-35 so that is a fake reason... also on the face of it it sounds reasonable except that Iran bases its entire air defence around the F-14... why would they share such information with Russia or China who are not really their buddies at all... well not until recently.
It is more about explaining why the Soviets managed the MiG-31 when they are so backwards... I mean obviously they must have copied because there is no talent in that country for anything except copying...
That's why they just started a new jet IMO.
They started new jets because there is more money to be made in brand new from scratch designs.
And BTW if keeping such technology secret is so damn critical then they needed a replacement for the Abrams before it entered service.
The armour the Abrams and the British equivalent Challanger had were designed and paid for by the Shah of Iran for a new Iranian tank... are you sure that has not be compromised?
they thought the F-14 was an overkill & bet on F-18E/F growth, supported by tankers.
They thought it was an overkill because the cold war is over and there is no way any other country could make Tu-22M3 like aircraft or Kh-22M type missiles in the next 20 years.
Unfortunately Russia recovered and now not only has Tu-22M3Ms and Kh-32s but also MiG-31Ks with Kinzhal missiles and also Zircon missiles on the way as well as PAK DAs too.
A new F-14 type is needed now more than ever... ironically you could argue that even F-14s are not enough so by getting rid of them they saved themselves a lot of money keeping such expensive aircraft in service... but the Super Hornet and F-35 are not cheaper... they cost more.
Iranians had no other choice but to keep & upgrade their F-14s, which played the MiG-25/31 role in their service.
That is true but now they could be purchasing Su-35s with R-37 export model missiles... if they want.