Grumman A-6 Intruder
The Navy's experience with jet aircraft in the Korean conflict
led to a requirement for a low-level attack bomber that could
deliver ordnance against moving and fixed sea and land targets
in all-weather and darkness. It was to be subsonic and capable
of delivering nuclear as well as conventional ordnance thus being
useful in both nuclear retaliatory and conventional conflicts.
The Chief of Naval Operations issued the operational requirement
(CA-01504) for this aircraft on 2 October 1956. On 5 March 1957
the Navy announced its intention to conduct a design competition
for an aircraft that would meet the operational requirement. Eight
manufacturers submitted eleven designs to this competition. The
Navy selected the Grumman design. The aircraft that Grumman produced
was a swept-wing two-place plane with exceptional loitering ability
that could fly under enemy radar and carry greater and more varied
stores than any naval attack aircraft of its time. It was powered
by two Pratt & Whitney J-52 P-6 turbojet engines each with
8,500 pounds of thrust. The Intruder made its first flight 19
April 1960 as the A2F-1, a designation that became A-6A in the
Department of Defense's uniform designation system.
|First contract||26 March 1959
|First flight||19 April 1960
|First reported in squadron||
||February 1963 (A-6A in VA-42)|
|Initial operating capability||
Model Designations Accepted from the Manufacturer (New Builds)
- A-6A: Originally designated A2F-1 and changed to A-6A in the
DOD uniform designation system, this aircraft was first accepted
by the Navy in February 1963 by VA-42. At light weights it could
operate from short unprepared fields in close support of ground
troops; at higher weights it could operate from catapult on long
range special weapon strikes against heavily defended fixed targets.
The A-6A had an attack-navigation and central digital computer
system to find targets in all moving conditions.
- EA-6A: The original designation of the EA-6A was A2F-1Q. This
aircraft retained a portion of the A-6A's attack capability but
gave up much of its bombing and navigation equipment to make space
for antennas to convert the attack plane into an effective electronic
- A-6B: The A-6B was a version of the A-6A design produced to
meet the special wartime need of destroying ground-based antiaircraft
defenses. The A-6B was equipped to carry the Standard Anti-Radiation
Missile (ARM) and had emitter location sensors.
- KA-6D: A-6A modified for use as aerial refueling tanker.
- A-6E: The Navy began to develop this version of the Intruder
in the late 1960s. The first production deliveries were made in
1971. The A-6E was intended to reduce the necessary maintenance
on the aircraft by increasing the reliability of its equipment
and support. There were also improvements in the search and track
radar, the computer and armament control equipment. The A-6E program
involved new production A-6E's and the modification of A-6A's
to the -6E configuration. The latter resulted in converting 240
A-6As to A-6Es.
- A-6E TRAM: The Target Recognition Attack Multisensor (TRAM)
configuration of the A-6E greatly improved the air-craft's capability.
Introduced in 1976, the TRAM version was equipped with a laser
ranger and designator, a laser spot tracker and high resolution
infrared sensor. The crew was able to view television quality
images of their targets by day or night. The TRAM sensors greatly
improve both ballistic and visual bombing accuracy. The TRAM version
is equipped to launch laser-guided bombs and missiles. The TRAM's
ASN-92 CAINS inertial navigation system gave the crew greater
reliability and accuracy than was possible with the ASN-31. The
TRAM version also had an Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS)
and the Approach Power Compensator to provide totally automatic
landing aboard carrier. Specifications for the A-6E are as follows:
Length 54 ft 9 in Span 53 ft Height 16 ft 3 in Height with wings
folded 21 ft 11 in Weight 26,896 pounds empty 60,400 pounds gross
Crew 2 Speed Over 500 knots Engines 2 Pratt & Whitney 9,300
lb J52-P-8 Ordnance Five external store positions. Maximum load
of 17,280 pounds Other Designations (Modifications of existing
- A-6C: The A-6C was another special version of the A-6A produced
to meet a wartime necessity. It was equipped with infrared sensors
and Low Light Level Television (LLLT). The A-6C was known by the
acronym TRIM which described the aircraft's mission as Trails,
Roads Interdiction Multisensor. The A-6C's sensors were meant
to detect the enemy's supply depots and truck traffic in Southeast
- JA-6A: A-6A modified as a test-bed for Circulation Control
Wing research and development.
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