Built originally on the airframe of the F-8U Crusader, the A-7 underwent a number of modifications since its 1965 introduction. The A-7 Corsair II, which is retired, was used by TAC for close air support attack missions. The A-7E was the final fleet version of the A-7. After more than two decades of service, however, it was replaced by the F/A-18 Hornet.The A-7E had a 20mm gun and can carry payloads of up to 15,000 pounds of bombs and missiles. Eight ordnance stations were available. A-7E Corsair IIs were part of the two-carrier battle group that conducted a joint strike on selected Libyan terrorist-related targets in 1986. Together with carrier-based F/A-18s, A-7s used anti-radiation missiles to neutralize Libyan air defenses. F/A-18s replaced A-7Es in the carrier air wing mix. The last two squadrons transitioned in FY 1992. Replacing A-7s with F/A-18s gave operational commanders more flexibility by allowing them to employ the F/A-18s in either the fighter or attack role. Also, a smaller number of aircraft (85) are needed in an F/A-18 equipped carrier air wing than in an A-7E equipped carrier air wing.
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