Adding to that, VF-41 made combat drops of GBU-24s over Serbia in '94 well before the LANTIRN was implemented. After LANTIRN adoption (it is worth noting the LANTIRN was adopted in both the A and B), Afterwards the Tomcat was able to carry a bomb load equal to or greater than the Hornet, farther than the Hornet, and faster than the Hornet. The resolution on the LANTIRN was greater than the NITEHAWK pods in service with the Hornet community at the time, so the Tomcat was also able to provide more accurate targeting, and was highly sought after in the AFAC role. Leatherneck has been coy about whether they’re going to do the LANTIRN, and the impression I get is that it’s reliant on man hours and technical information available. Point is if does make it, all the Hornets shall tremble in fear at the sight of the mid 90s Tomcat in all of it’s resplendent glory. If it doesn’t, it can still carry more bombs further, it just needs a little bit of helping for the PGMs.
The F-14 was always meant to be able to be multi role in the same vein the F-4 was. You can still find pictures like that from the mid-70s testing the operational feasibility of specific bomb loads. However as all things in the 70s, the Tomcat program began running into significant cost overruns stemming from a great many things. The most egregious were the costs of adapting the TF-30 (which was intended to be a stop gap solution) to the Tomcat, and to developing the TF-30s replacement, the Pratt & Whitney F-401 (A derivative of the PW F-100 found in the F-15As). Finally, it got to the point where the Navy was told to get the Tomcat out the door or resignations were going to be solicited. The F-401 got axed, as did a number of “nice to have” features, amongst them was the A/G capability. (Astute pilots will note the F-14A has an A/G mode selector switch in the cockpit). This would also be the immediate reason the USMC declined the F-14 (they had pilots going through the RAG at the time), and ultimately invested in the Hornet and doubled down on the Harrier.
I’m not 100% sure on deliver modes for bombs. I know CCIP is an option, and that would imply that the AWG-9 can be used for basic air to ground ranging (it cannot be used for mapping). I don’t see why CCRP wouldn’t be available either via coordinates or via a HUD designation. All accounts imply it was certainly available once the LANTIRN arrived.
This is sheer pedantry, but the LHDs are still operated by the Navy. Their component air wing is Marine. Harriers can technically operate from CVNs and CVs, but their operations have a habit of disrupting the CATOBAR landing cycle. If the Navy needs to draw on the marines to fill out a CVW, they generally deploy a Hornet squadron. Interestingly enough this has become a point of concern as the Marines plan to replace their entire fleet of fixed wing strike fighters, Hornets and Harriers, with the F-35B. This means they have to figure out a way to make VTOL play nice with CATOBAR.
Also my extreme overzealousness towards the Tomcat does not diminish my anticipation for the Harrier. On a ranked list of “what I want”, it’s #3. Behind the Tom and the Hornet, tied with the Mudhen, preceding the F-4 and A-6.