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Though it was intended to be a medium bomber for the Navy, the A-6’s ended up carrying more bombs further than any other aircraft on the carrier. Loads of up to 30 500 lb. general purpose bombs were possible, though smaller loads were common.
With the addition of the TRAM turret, the A-6E became the first aircraft on the carrier to be able to designate targets for laser guided bombs (LGBs).
The A-6 became a jack-of-all-trades. It was one of the first aircraft fitted for anti-SAM missions, it took over the carrier’s aerial refueling job and found a lasting niche in Electronic Warfare.
The Marines started the A-6 in the EW or radar jamming role very early on, the EA-6A first flew in 1963. The success of the EA-6A led to the EA-6B, an enlarged A-6 with a crew of four. The EA-6B has been continually improved and is now the primary tactical EW aircraft for the US military.