“A strong national defense for the United States is not only indispensable to arms control but for the security, freedom, and peace of the entire world. A real and secure peace depends on us, on our courage to build it and guard it and pass it on to future generations. George Washington's words ring just as true today: ``To be prepared for war,'' he said, ``is one of the most effective means of preserving peace.'' American strength is a sheltering arm for peace and freedom in an often dangerous world. And strength is the most persuasive argument we have to convince our adversaries to give up their hostile intentions, to negotiate seriously, and to stop bullying other nations. In the real world, peace through strength must be our motto.” – Ronald Reagan
Ronald Reagan entered the White House determined to restore the strength of the U.S. military. He insisted on military might not for its own sake, but to discourage threats to American interests, defend freedom around the world, and bring the Soviet Union to the bargaining table. As he said in 1982, “When I took office in January 1981, I was appalled by what I found: American planes that couldn't fly and American ships that couldn't sail... and insufficient fuel and ammunition for essential training.” So President Reagan began his “Peace Through Strength” initiatives – rebuilding our national defenses and the importance of a strong military; in 1980 fewer than half of Navy ships were ready for duty and only 6 in 10 Air Force Units were ready for action. But by 1988, nearly all Navy ships and over 90% of Air Force units were combat ready.
President Reagan believed that the best way to avoid war was to leave no doubt in our enemy’s mind about who would win. It is with this spirit that President Reagan led this country through one of the most significant military upgrades in American history. The F14 on display at the Reagan Library represents one of the 2 Tomcats from a Black Ace Squadron that took part in the August 1981 encounter with two Libyan fighter planes. After the Libyan planes closed in on the American Tomcats and fired on them, the US Navy tomcats received permission to engage and brought down both enemy aircraft.
It was installed on the Reagan Library’s Peace Pavilion on August 22, 2005.