Grumman A-6 Intruder

Photo by Carl Plumley.

All-weather attack aircraft, entered service in 1963. The A-6 is an ugly mid-wing aircraft, with side-by-side seating in a blunt nose. The subsonic A-6 is a true all-wheater attack aircraft; it has good range and carries a heavier load than any previous USN attack aircraft. It is still in service, but near the  end of its career. Over 660 were built. 51 were converted to KA-6D trainers. The  A-attack aircraft was the basis for two electronic warfare versions, the  two-seat EA-6A and the four-seat EA-6B Prowler. The EA-6B carries up to five  AN/ALQ-99 pods, each with two jamming transmitters.

Type:  A-6E
Function: attack
Year: 1972
Crew: 2
Engines: 2 * 41.4kN  P&W J52-P-8A
Wing Span: 16.15 m
Length: 16.69 m
Height: 4.93 m
Wing Area: 49.13 m2
Empty Weight: 12093 kg
Max.Weight: 27397  kg
Speed: 1043 km/h
Ceiling: 14480 m
Range: 4690 km
Armament: 8165 kg
Unit cost: 25 million USD


Type: EA-6B
Task: electronic warfare
Year: 1971
Crew:  4
Engines: 2 * 49.8kN P&W J52-P-408
Wing Span: 16.15 m
Length:  18.11 m
Height: 4.93 m
Empty Weight: 14588 kg
Max.Weight: 29485  kg
Max. Speed: 1048 km/h
Ceiling: 12550 m
Max. Range: 3861 km
Armament: possibly HARM-missiles.

Grumman A-6 Intruder

Contractors: Northrop Grumman (Prime), Boeing, Norden, Hughes, Sundstrand

Aircraft Description

Two Pratt & Whitney J52-P8B/C, nonafterburning, axial-flow turbojet engines; each rated approximately 9,300 lb. thrust. The C version is a reliability and maintainability improvement to the  combustion chamber, fuel nozzles and seals in the oil tank. The engine, used in  other internationally operated aircraft is supported by several corporations.

Crew of two: pilot and bombardier/navigator.

Maximum speed 568 knots at sea level, max range greater than 2,800 miles.

Provision for  carrying up to 18,000 lbs. of ordnance on 5 external weapon stations.


Aircraft Mission and Capabilities

The A-6E is the U.S. Navy's heavy  payload attack aircraft that provides all-weather, day or night, long-range strike capability. It has recently been modified with a composite wing to extend  the plane's operational fatigue life another 20 years and is equipped with an  all-weather multiple-mode radar, DRS (Detecting and Range Set), and a self-contained carrier airborne inertial navigation system. The APQ-156 integrated radar provides the capabilities of search, target tracking, airborne moving target identification, and beacon interrogation. The high resolution, real beam ground mapping radar, complemented by the Tactical Altitude Director (TAD) system, also provides terrain clearance and avoidance for low-level  navigation. The DRS contains a FLIR, laser range-finder designator, and forward  air control (FAC) receiver located beneath the nose in a sensor turret for  precision attacks against tactical targets at night and in adverse weather. The A-6E can deliver the Navy's entire arsenal of available air-to-ground weapons from general purpose bombs to ground attack missiles, and the AIM-9L/M air-to-air missile. The SWIP (Systems Weapons Improvement Program) is the latest upgrade that enables the Intruder, through a MIL-STD-1553 avionics multiplex  databus to employ multiple advanced precision guided missiles against land- and  sea-based targets and emitters. Most A-6Es have been further modified to night  multi-place attacks. The integrated attack navigation weapon system coupled with  a two man, side-by-side crew, significantly enhances crew coordination,  situational awareness, and safety of flight by reducing data saturation associated with the real world tactical environment.

Program Summary

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)  all of the SWIP composite wing configuration. The A-6F, the next generation  Intruder, started development in 1984 incorporating General Electric F404 engines, an inverse synthetic aperture radar with air-to-air mode, and improved  structural changes. This program was cancelled in 1989 with 5 prototypes built.

The A-6 has played an essential part in the changes that have reshaped the world: Vietnam War - 1963-1971, Lebanon/Libya/Grenada - 1971-1986, and Operation Desert Storm in 1991. A total of 693 production A-6s were built, including 488  A-6As, 95 A-6Es, 71 A-6E TRAM, 34 A-6E SWIP and 5 A-6Fs. Over its 33 year history, the A-6 has been in active service in 17 U.S. Navy and 7 U.S. Marine Corps squadrons.

Presently the attack version and/or the Tanking Version (KA-6E) are being  offered by the U.S. Navy for FMS.



        Wing span                                  53 ft / 16.15 m

        Wing span (folded)                         25 ft 2 in / 7.67 m

        Overall length                               54 ft 7 in / 16.64 m

        Height                                       16 ft 2 in / 4.93 m

General Data

Crew                                       2
Power Plant

               Number                               2

               Manufacturer                       Pratt & Whitney

               Type                                 J52-P-B/C Turbojet

               Rating                                9,300 lb / 41.1 kN


        Maximum speed                                560 kt / 1,037 km/hr

        Average cruise speed                         412 kt / 763 km/hr

        Approach speed                                122 kt / 226 km/hr

        Min. T.O. distance                           4,820 ft / 1,469 m

        Min. landing distance                           2,700 ft / 823 m

        Service ceiling                                 41,000 ft./12,496 m

        Ferry range                              2,380 naut mi / 4,408 km


    Weight empty                                  27,892 lb / 12,649 kg

        Internal fuel                                     15,939 lb / 7,230 kg
        External fuel (5 300 gal drop tanks)       10,025 lb / 4,546 kg

        External stores maximum capacity        18,000 lb / 8,165 kg