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In 1963, when the US Navy sought to create a successor to the A-4 Skyhawk, the cost and speed of aircraft production were major concerns.
Chance Vought ultimately developed and produced a derivative of the F-8 Crusader, the subsonic A-7 Corsair II for a cost of about one million dollars.
The A-7 possessed unheard target accuracy, low loses, long range and was popular with pilots and mechanics. After five million flight hours the A-7 became the US militaries most cost effective aerial weapon.
The A-7 was one of the first combat aircraft to use the turbofan engine, Heads Up Display (HUD) and Doppler bound inertial navigation system with Projected Map Display System (PMDS) that are standard equipment on many modern jets.
The turbofan engine, produced for the F-111, provided a dramatic increase in fuel-efficiency using six times less fuel than the F-100 at equal thrust.
The A-7’s integrated radar and navigation system fed the digital weapons computer producing a precise drop from a greater distance which improved the survivability of the aircraft.
The early A-7’s arrived in Vietnam in 1967, the later D model flew 12,938 sorties with only four losses, less than any US fighter in Vietnam.
The A-7’s production ended in 1984, it spent its final US missions in the Gulf War in 1990. Many airframes are still in service around the globe today.