Command’s latest series of updates have brought a new array of hypothetical units to the forefront. The question is what units would be used in a way that would maintain plausibility.
This is easy. The A-6F, being an upgraded version of the old A-6 Intruder, would replace older A-6E units.
(Note: the biggest difference between the A/F-117X and F-117N is that the former has air to air capability and the latter doesn’t).
This is tricky. They can replace A-6s as carrier strike aircraft, or they can serve in small detachments (3-6 planes, numbers closer to a specialty plane like jammer or AEW than a basic attacker) to serve as niche attack aircraft.
If the Terrible Triangle was made to work and became the Awesome Triangle, it would also replace A-6s. In what quantity depends on the degree of success-like the naval F-117, it could be either a full-blown replacement or a costly niche plane.
Trickier. Super Tomcats can easily replace their direct predecessors, as well as the A-6 in the long-range heavy attacker role. What’s harder to say is whether or not they’d muscle aside the Hornet family as well-whether the Super Hornet gets cancelled or replaces the original F/A-18 as a light fighter rather than as a do-everything plane depends on politics and funding.
Replaces the S-3.
Replaces the F-14 as the pure air-to-air fleet defense fighter.
So, for one of the carrier wings, not in a limited intervention/peacetime profile, but a fully-loaded major war loadout, composed entirely of hypotheticals (at least in the fighter/attack units)
12-15 F-24 (1 squadron, fighter VF)
24-30 F-14E (2 squadrons, fighter VFA)
12 A-6F (1 squadron, attack VA)
18 other (Ea-6, E-2, S-3/SV-22, etc..) (multiple smaller squadrons).
-This assumes a more balanced, offensive-focused deployment. For the threat of a continued Soviet Union or other opponent that posed a greater threat to the fleet, swapping one of the multirole squadrons for another pure fighter one would not be surprising.
-This also does not take legacy aircraft into account. Either unupgraded F-14s or those in the database that have the AAAM but nothing else can replace the F-24s, and Hornets (legacy or, more doubtfully, Super) can replace the Super Tomcats. The A-6F can be replaced by the stealth attackers or super/legacy Tomcats (Legacy Intruders were some of the oldest platforms in the fleet and badly needed retirement). The ratio can range from only one squadron of new aircraft on the carrier to one squadron of old ones left (i.e, the small force of A-7s in the Gulf War).
-Just because all the planes are on the carrier does not mean that they are all ready to fly at a moment’s notice. The F-14 in particular was a high-maintenance plane, and while Super Tomcats may have eliminated some of the clunkier components, its swing-wing design is still inherently time-consuming to service. So for high plausibility, put some planes of all types in “Maintenance-Unavailable” .