The squadron received its first A-7E in December 1969, and transitioned the Atlantic Fleet's first squadron VA-81 on 1 June 1970. In addition to conducting squadron transition training, VA-174 continued to train all the replacement pilots and enlisted maintenance personnel who served in the Atlantic Fleet Light Attack Squadrons. As of 1 August 1971, VA-174 had trained 535 pilots, 48 maintenance officers and 4815 enlisted maintenance personnel. VA-174 was the largest aviation squadron in the U.S. Navy.
Commander John McCain was the Executive Officer and Commanding Officer of VA-174 in the mid-1970s.