In September, 2006, the U.S. F-14 fighter retired after 36 years of service. A number of naval aviators timed their retirement parties to coincide with the F-14 retirement ceremonies. For many of these pilots, the retirement of the F-14 was the end of an era in more ways than one. The retirement of the F-14 reminded everyone that there are no longer any pure fighter squadrons in the U.S. Navy. All the squadrons have dual purpose aircraft, mainly the F-18. Officially, it's the F/A-18, meaning that the F-18 performs both bombing ("A" for "Attack") and fighter ("F" for "Fighter") duties. This is largely due to the fact that there are few nations that can put up much of a fight against carrier fighter aircraft, so more emphasis is now placed on bombing. There are a lot more nations out there in need of a good bombing, than can protect their own air space.