The EA-7L was used to simulate Soviet aircraft, often carrying a variety of jamming and ECM pods
Built by LTV Aerospace Corporation (the same company that produced the iconic F-8 Crusader), the A-7 Corsair II replaced the A-4 Skyhawk as Naval Aviation’s front line light attack aircraft. The A-7 performed its maiden flight in Sep. 1965 and resembled the F-8 Crusader especially in the single jet intake gaping beneath the nose.
However the short and stubby silhouette of the Corsair II embodied ruggedness and left little question that it was designed to carry bombs. The SLUF (Short, Little, Ugly, Fucker as the A-7 was nicknamed by her aircrews) in fact evolved into arguably the most successful tactical jet bomber of the Vietnam Conflict.
What the SLUF wasn’t supposed to do was the adversary aircraft a role that played the one of a kind EA-7L variant.
Because of a shortage of TA-4 Skyhawks, eight TA-7Cs were modified into EA-7L. These jets were used by Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 34 (VAQ-34) ‘Electric Horsemen’ within the Fleet Electronic Warfare Support Group (FEWSG) to simulate Soviet aircraft, often carrying a variety of jamming and ECM pods.
The EA-7Ls were upgraded to A-7E standard while retaining twin seats in 1984. The aircraft were retired in 1991.
Today only few pictures of this forgotten variant of the mighty SLUF remain.
Photo credit: PH2 Bruce Trombecky / U.S. Navy and Sgt. W. Thornton / U.S. Air Force