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Grumman A-6 Intruder Carrier-Borne All-Weather Heavy Strike Aircraft (1968)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 9/8/2009

The A-6 Intruder series spanned the Vietnam War up through final production ending in 1992.

The Grumman A-6 Intruder series of strike aircraft was designed to a United States Navy specification drawn up covering an attack aircraft capable carrying and delivering large payloads over distance and in any weather. The initial Intruder design designated as the G-128 fit the bill, beating out no fewer than 11 designs from 8 companies looking to fulfill the government contract.

The A-6 series quickly progressed in a sophisticated high maintenance machine, though it could fulfill everything that the Navy require of it. It was of a swept-wing mid-monoplane design with a single large rudder at rear. Twin standard thrust engines were fed through dual intakes forward of the cockpit seating area on either side. The cockpit itself could seat two crewmen and the highly identifiable inflight refueling probe was static in the center of the nose just in front of the windscreen.

As a strike fighter, the Intruder series provided. The ability to deliver precision munitions in the form of laser-guided bombs and the later AGM-78 Standard series of anti-radiation anti-radar missiles proved the aircraft a huge hit for its pilots and warplanners alike. The series would go on to see extensive action in the skies over Vietnam in the Vietnam Conflict.

After the initial 482 "A" models were complete, other variants sprung up including the "B" model featuring simplified avionics and provisions for the aforementioned AGM-78. The "C" model would yield a dozen night attack variants featuring forward-scanning infrared systems and low-light sensors. The KA-6D version would become a might needed inflight refueler aircraft nicknamed 'buddy'. The ultimate Intruder would eventually be seen in the form of the A-6E models classified as true attack aircraft and fitted with various powerful Pratt & Whitney series J52 engines. Improved navigation and weapons delivery systems were also introduced and addressed from previous experience. Final variants included the A-6E/TRAM models that featured the Target Recognition and Attack Multisensor package fitted under the nose assembly.

With the system seeing final combat action in the Persian Gulf War, production officially ended in 1992. As such, the system was later removed from frontline service in every capacity as newer and much improved strike aircraft made their way to the forefront. Nonetheless, the A-6 Intruder was an exceptional aircraft requiring a good deal of attention - attention not short of supply when one understands the fondness her crews had for the machine.

The EA-6 "Prowler" electronic warfare aircraft are based on the general A-6 Intruder series airframe with modifications to the systems, additional equipment and seating for four crewmembers. These are set to be replaced as well by the EA-18 "Growler" series based on the successful F-18 Super Hornet airframe.

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Specifications for the
Grumman A-6 Intruder
Carrier-Borne All-Weather Heavy Strike Aircraft

Focus Model: Grumman A-6E / TRAM Intruder
Country of Origin: United States
Manufacturer: Grumman - USA
Initial Year of Service: 1968
Production: 784

Crew: 2

Length: 54.76ft (16.69m)
Width: 52.17ft (15.90m)
Height: 16.08ft (4.90m)
Weight (Empty): 27,613lbs (12,525kg)
Weight (MTOW): 58,599lbs (26,580kg)

Powerplant: 2 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8B turbojet engines generating 9,300lbs of standard thrust.

Maximum Speed: 644mph (1,036kmh; 559kts)
Maximum Range: 1,081miles (1,739km)
Service Ceiling: 44,619ft (13,600m; 8.5miles)
Rate-of-Climb: 0 feet per minute (0m/min)

Hardpoints: 5
Armament Suite:
Up to 18,000 lbs of mission-specific ordnance including MK-84 Cluster Bombs, AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles, AGM-130 Harpoon anti-ship missiles, AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation / anti-radar missiles, AIM-7 Sparrow air-to-air missiles, GBU-12 Paveway II and GBU-27 Paveway III laser-guided bombs.

G-128 - Initial Design Designation

A2F - Initial Development Model Designation

YA2F-1 - Development Model Designation of which 8 were ordered; fitted with 2 x Pratt & Whitney J52-P-6 turbojet engines.

A-6 - Redesignation for Model Series in 1962.

A-6A - Production Model Designation of which 482 were produced; fitted with 2 x J52-P-8A/B engines; increased rudder size; digital navigation and attack systems integrated.

A-6B - Conversion Interdictor Model based on A-6A; simplified avionics systems; provision for AGM-78 Standard anti-radar missile system.

A-6C - Night Attack Variant fitted with forward-looking infrared systems and low-light TV sensors; 12 produced.

KA-6D - Inflight Refueling Tanker Variant.

A-6E - Strike Aircraft Model fitted with either J52-P-8B or J52-P-408 engines; improved systems throughout; solid-state electronics implemented.

A-6E TRAM - Similar to the A-6E model; fitted with Target Recognition and Attack Multisensor (hence the TRAM designation) package in under-fuselage housing.

EA-6A - Electronic Warfare Model of United States Marine Corps use.

EA-6B "Prowler" - Electronic Warfare Model of the United States Navy specialized for carrier operations.

United States