The Grumman (now Northrop Grumman) A-6 Intruder was an all-weather, two seat, subsonic, carrier-based attack aircraft. The subsonic A-6 has no spectacular performance or design features but is superbly suited to the particular attack role for which it so carefully tailored. Designed in the late 1950's, the A-6 prototype made its first test flight in April 1960. The first of six TA2F-1 prototypes flew for the first time on 19 April 1960. These were followed by 482 production A-6As delivered to the US Navy from early 1963. From night flights over the jungles of Vietnam to Desert Storm missions above heavily-fortified targets in Iraq, the Grumman A-6 Intruder developed a work-horse reputation and was the subject of many tales of daring aviation during its 34-year career. The strengths of the Intruder included its capability to fly in all weather and its heavy weapons payload -- two traits illuminated on the big screen in the popular action film "Flight of the Intruder."
The A-6E was removed from U.S. Naval Air Forces in February 1997. One hundred (100) aircraft are stored in War Reserve and the additional excess aircraft are stored for potential Foreign Military Sales (FMS).
The A-6 Intruder served as the Navy's medium-attack mainstay during three decades of conflict, crisis and cold war. The Intruder made its first flight in April 1960. The aircraft's ruggedness and all-weather mission capability made it an awesome asset to Navy and Marine Corps air wings throughout its lifespan. Built by the legendary Grumman "Ironworks," 687 production attack Intruders were accepted by the Navy. A testament to the aircraft's versatility and longevity was the myriad upgrades and technological enhancements that kept it the world's premier long-range, all-weather attack aircraft for over 30 years. Carrying an impressive payload of ordnance, only land-based heavy bombers such as the B-1 and B-52 could carry more. A little-known fact is that the Intruder delivered more ordnance during the Vietnam War than the B-52.
A tough and versatile aircraft, the A-6 was called upon to fly the most difficult missions. Its forte was to fly low and alone-in any weather. The all-weather attack jet has seen action in every conflict the US has been involved in since Vietnam. With the ability to carry more ordnance, launch a wider variety of space-age smart weapons, conduct day or night strikes over greater distances on internal fuel than any carrier borne aircraft before or since, and provide mid-air refueling support to other carrier jets, the Intruder represents the most versatile military aircraft in modern times.
The A-6E proved that it was the best all-weather precision bomber in the world in the joint strike on Libyan terrorist-related targets in 1986. With Air Force FB-111s, A-6E Intruders penetrated the sophisticated Libyan air defense systems, which had been alerted by the high level of diplomatic tension and by rumors of impending attacks. Evading over 100 guided missiles, the strike force flew at low levels in complete darkness, and accurately delivered laser-guided and other ordnance on target.
No guns of any kind are carried aboard the A-6, and the aircraft has no internal bomb bay. A wide variety of stores, however, can be mounted externally; these include both conventional and nuclear bombs, fuel tanks, and an assortment of rockets and missiles. As with all versatile attack aircraft, many combinations of payload and mission radius are available to the A-6E. For example, a weapons load of 2080 Pounds consisting of a Mark 43 nuclear bomb can be delivered at a mission radius of' 890 miles. For that mission, four 300-gallon external tanks are carried. Alternatively, 10 296 pounds can be delivered at a mission radius of 450 miles with two 300-gallon external tanks. Unrefueled ferry range is 3300 miles. Normal gross weight aircraft is 54 393 pounds, nearly three times that of the A-4E.
Configuration of the midwing subsonic aircraft features a 5.31-aspect ratio wing of moderate sweepback (25°) and one turbojet engine nestled on either side of the fuselage in the intersection of the lower wing surface and the fuselage side. Exhaust nozzles are located just behind the wing trailing edge, side-mounted inlets are low and far forward on the fuselage. A side-by-side seating arrangement accommodates the crew in the A-6. The refueling probe is located on top of the fuselage just ahead of the cockpit canopy. To provide the lift augmentation necessary for carrier operations, nearly full-span leading-edge and trailing-edge high-lift devices are installed. The trailing edge of each wingtip outboard of the fold line splits to form speed brakes that deflect above and below the wing when deployed. The outer portion of the wing folds upward to facilitate carrier storage. Two short flow-control fences are located on each wing. Spoilers are used for lateral control, and the longitudinal control surface is an all-moving horizontal tail.
The A-6E is capable of a maximum speed of 653 miles per hour (Mach 0.86) at sea level and a cruising speed of 390 miles per hour. Although the wing loading of the A-6E is over 40 percent higher than that of the A-4E, the stalling speeds of the two aircraft are nearly the same, which attests to the effectiveness of the highlift devices on the A-6. The zero-lift drag coefficient of the A-6E is about 20 percent higher than that of the B-57B; however, the maximum lift-drag ratios of the two aircraft are about the same. The higher-aspect-ratio wing of the A-6E compensates for its higher zero-lift drag coefficient in determining the maximum lift-drag ratio.
|Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list|