|SO here in Oregon a community is trying to get the USS Ranger, retired Forrestal class carrier, as a floating museum.
Thinking about the Ranger led to the A4, one helluva capable aircraft.
Give it the most upgraded J52 engine with 12k thrust up from 9300, and it's STOL, baby. It can go up to 16k thrust with an afterburner. Perfect for ski-jump carriers, and dirt cheap to buy and maintain compared to Harriers.
With smart munitions a 250 lb SDB that hits its target is much, much more effective than a 500 or 1000 pounder. LEss collateral damage too. Or deploy with 70mm hydras (guided and otherwise) and a GAU-12 25mm gatling gun for CAS missions.
The A4 could even supplement No-Fly missions with modern avionics and A-A missiles.
I KNOW THIS ISN'T A 5th GEN AIR SUPERIORITY FIGHTER. The Marines don't need that. A carrier off the coast of Somalia doesn't need that.
Besides, do we really want to send in a 150 million dollar F35b into CAS missions where the enemy doesn't have any radar-guided AA defenses?
I'm talking reality, not fantasy here. 2500 F35s is a fantasy. We'll be lucky to get 500 - 1000 through the budgetary meat-grinder that is coming.
Also I'm clearly not saying the exact 1950's design A-4, but a similarly-capable aircraft. Single-engine, 6000lb payload with full fuel load for CAS loiter, buddy-fueling capability, high sub-mach. Not the highest tech tool in the box, but then again neither is the A-10 and the Marines would collectively sport one giant chubby if they could get a carrier version of the Warthog, now wouldn't they?