From the flight deck of the Intrepid, the A-6F Intruder.
The A6F, first known as the A-6E Upgrade, was designed as an advanced version of the A-6E Intruder, then already in service with the Navy and Marine Corps. By July of 1984, an official contract was drafted and many in defense circles had thought that the A-6F would function as the Navy’s primary medium attack jet come the quickly-approaching 1990s; it was just that good.
The A-6E Upgrade was essentially an Intruder from the outside, but a nearly brand-new aircraft on the inside. A new AN/APQ-173 synthetic aperture radar, a Collins GPS system, in-built AN/ALQ-165 jamming gear, a digital avionics suite replete with a glass cockpit, smokeless F404-GE-400D turbofans (minus the afterburners; a huge improvement on the old J52s used in the Intruders at that point in time), a redesigned epoxy /composite Boeing wing, and two more weapons pylons under the wings, increasing the payload capacity. The A6E Upgrade/A6F was also to be able to sling a pair of AIM-120A AMRAAM air-to-air missiles, which would have given the Intruder an air-to-air capability for the very first time.
Five A-6Fs were ordered and completed, all modified A-6Es. At first, their working name was “Intruder II”. Since the Boeing comp. wings weren’t ready to be fitted just yet, they were equipped with the standard metal wings Grumman had built the Intruder with. Flying for the first time on the 26th of August, 1987, the A-6F program was relatively successful and exceeded expectations. However, by 1988, the A-6F project was scrapped and the last two A-6F prototypes were mothballed without being flown. The official reason for cancellation was budgetary constraints. Speculation by many on the real reason for the A-6F’s untimely demise was because of the development of the Advanced Tactical Aircraft (ATA) stealth attack aircraft project (the A-12 Avenger II); the program was still shrouded in secrecy at that time. Compounding matters was the cancellation of the A-12 itself a mere 3 years later in 1991.
BuNo 162185 (pictured) is currently the only A-6F on display.