A new era in Naval Aviation began with the introduction of the A-6 Intruder to the fleet in February 1963. The world's first all-weather attack aircraft, the Intruder provided the capability to launch low-level strikes against targets at extended ranges without regard to darkness or weather conditions. Serving throughout the Vietnam War, the A-6 continued as the Navy's front line medium-attack aircraft through Operation Desert Storm, during which Navy and Marine Corps A-6s logged more than 4,700 combat sorties. They were not retired until 1997.
From the beginning Intruders featured Digital Integrated Attack Navigation Equipment (DIANE), which provided an electronic display of targets and geographical features even in low visibility conditions. Introduced on the A-6E version of the aircraft, the Target Recognition Attack Multisensors (TRAM) system combined Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR) and laser sensors with an onboard computer. Located in a ball turret beneath the nose of the aircraft, TRAM enabled a higher degree of bombing accuracy by locating targets and ascertaining their ranges, allowing the A-6 crew to detect ground undulations as small as a plowed field.
Despite initial difficulties in Vietnam, the A-6 proved itself in the murky weather conditions over Southeast Asia, oftentimes carrying out single-plane or two-plane nocturnal raids with devastating accuracy that produced disproportionate results. This was dramatically illustrated when two A-6s made a night strike dropping twenty-six 500 lb. bombs against a North Vietnamese power plant. The damage was such that the enemy high command was convinced that B-52 heavy bombers had been at work.
The Intruder served as the aircraft carrier's "big stick" in combat over Lebanon, Libya and Iraq. During Operation Desert Storm, Navy and Marine Corps A-6s logged more than 4,700 combat sorties, providing close air support, destroying enemy air defenses, attacking Iraqi naval units and hitting strategic targets. All told, 687 A-6s were delivered to the Navy, the last being retired from front line service in 1997.
The A-6E Intruder on display (Bureau Number 155610) was delivered in 1968 and spent ten years of its service in Attack Squadron (VA) 196, in whose markings it is painted. Among the carriers in which it deployed were Enterprise (CVN-65) and Ranger (CVA-61).
|Manufacturer:||Grumman Aerospace Corporation|
|Type:||All-weather medium attack|
|Crew:||Pilot and Bombardier-Navigator|
|Powerplant:||Two 9,300 lb. static thrust Pratt & Whitney J52-P-8A or 8B turbojet engines|
Length: 54 ft., 9 in.
Empty: 26,746 lb.
Max Speed: 644 mph at sea level
18,000 lb. of ordnance, including laser guided bombs, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARM), stand-off land attack missiles (SLAM), and air-dropped mines