S-3 Viking

S-3 Viking

Infobox Aircraft
name=S-3 Viking
type=Anti-submarine aircraft
manufacturer=Lockheed Corporation

caption=An S-3B Viking launches from the catapult aboard USS "Abraham Lincoln".
first flight= 21 January 1972
status= Limited use; 2009 retirement
primary user=United States Navy
number built=187
unit cost=US$27 million (1974)
variants with their own articles=

The Lockheed S-3 Viking is a jet aircraft originally used by the United States Navy to identify, track, and destroy enemy submarines. In the late 1990s, the S-3B's mission focus shifted to surface warfare and aerial refueling. After the retirement of the A-6 Intruder and A-7 Corsair II, the Viking was the only airborne refueling platform organic to the Carrier Air Wing(s) until the fielding of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

It also provides electronic warfare and surface surveillance capabilities to the carrier battle group. A carrier-based, subsonic, all-weather, multi-mission aircraft with long range, it operates primarily with carrier battle groups as an in-flight tanker. It carries automated weapon systems, and is capable of extended missions with in-flight refueling. Because of the engines’ high-pitched sound, it is nicknamed the "Hoover" after the brand of vacuum cleaner.


The S-3 Viking was designed by Lockheed with the assistance from Ling-Temco-Vought (LTV) and Univac Federal Systems to fit the United States Navy VSX (Heavier-than-air, Anti-submarine, Experimental) requirement for a replacement for the piston-engined Grumman S-2 Tracker. Since Lockheed had no experience in building carrier-based aircraft, LTV was responsible for construction of the folding wings and tail, the engine nacelles, and the landing gear which was derived from A-7 Corsair II (nose) and F-8 Crusader (main). Univac built the onboard computers which integrated input from sensors and sonobuoys.cite web | title=The Lockheed S-3 Viking | author=Goebel, Greg | url=http://www.vectorsite.net/avs3.html |accessdate=2006-05-11 | work=Air Vectors | year=2005-05-01]

The first prototype flew on January 21, 1972 and the S-3 entered service in 1974. During the production run from 1974 to 1978, a total of 186 S-3As were built.


The S-3 is a conventional monoplane with a high-mounted cantilever wing, swept 15°. The two GE TF-34 high-bypass turbofan engines mounted in nacelles under the wings provide exceptional cruise efficiency compared to turbojets or earlier turbofans.

The aircraft can seat four crew members with the pilot and the copilot/tactical coordinator (COTAC) in the front of the cockpit and the tactical coordinator (TACCO) and sensor operator (SENSO) in the back. Entry is by an entry door / ladder which folds out of the side of the fuselage. All crew members sit on upward-firing Douglas Escapac zero-zero ejection seats. At the end of the 1990s the sonar operators were removed from the crew. In the tanking crew configuration, the S-3B typically flies with only a crew of two (pilot and COTAC). The wing is fitted with leading edge and Fowler flaps. Spoilers are fitted to both the upper and the lower surfaces of the wings. All control surfaces are actuated by dual hydraulically boosted irreversible systems.

The aircraft has two underwing hardpoints that can be used to carry fuel tanks, general purpose and cluster bombs, missiles, rockets, and storage pods. It also has four internal bomb bay stations that can be used to carry general purpose bombs, torpedoes, and special stores (B57 and B61). Fifty-nine sonobuoy chutes are fitted, as well as a dedicated Search and Rescue (SAR) chute. The S-3 is fitted with the ALE-39 countermeasure system and can carry up to ninety rounds of chaff, flares, and expendable jammers (or a combination of all) in three dispensers. A retractable magnetic anomaly detector (MAD) Boom is fitted in the tail. In the late 90s, the MAD Boom was removed from the aircraft when the S-3B's role was changed from Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) to Anti-Surface Warfare (ASuW).

Operational history

On February 20, 1974, the S-3A officially became operational with the VS-41 Shamrocks Fleet Replacement Squadron. The first operational cruise took place in 1975 with VS-21 Fighting Redtails aboard "USS John F. Kennedy (CV-67)".

Starting in 1991, some of these were upgraded to the S-3B with a number of new sensors, avionics, and weapons systems, including the capability to launch the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile. The S-3B can also be fitted with "buddy stores" external fuel tanks that allow the Viking to refuel other aircraft. Sixteen S-3As were converted to ES-3 Shadows for carrier-based electronic intelligence (ELINT) duties. One aircraft, designated US-3A, was also converted for utility and limited cargo duty. Plans were also made to develop the KS-3A carrier-based tanker aircraft to replace the retired KA-6 but this program was ultimately cancelled after the conversion of just one early development S-3A.

Since the submarine threat has been perceived as reduced, the Vikings have had the majority of their antisubmarine warfare equipment removed and are now used primarily for sea surface search, sea and ground attack, over-the-horizon targeting, and aircraft refueling. As a result, crews are now usually limited to two, though three person crews are not unusual with certain missions. It has been used as a jet VIP transport, as was the case of bringing George W. Bush aboard the Abraham Lincoln.

A number of recent upgrade programs have been implemented. These include the Carrier Airborne Inertial Navigation System II (CAINS II) upgrade, which replaced older inertial navigation hardware with ring laser gyroscopes and additional GPS systems, and added electronic flight instruments (EFI). The Maverick Plus System (MPS) added the capability to employ the AGM-65E laser-guided or AGM-65F infrared-guided AGM-65 Maverick air-to-surface missile, and the AGM-84H/K Stand-off Land Attack Missile Expanded Response (SLAM/ER). The SLAM/ER is a GPS/inertial/infrared guided cruise missile that can be controlled by the aircrew in the terminal phase of flight if an AWW-13 data link pod is carried by the aircraft.

The S-3B saw extensive service during the 1991 Gulf War, performing attack, tanker, and ELINT duties, and launching ADM-141 TALD decoys. The aircraft also participated in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001.

Though once considered being replaced by Common Support Aircraft, the original plan failed to materialize. As the surviving S-3 airframes were forced into sundown, a Lockheed Martin full scale fatigue test was performed and extended the service life of the aircraft by approximately 11,000 hours. The current Navy plans call for the retirement of all Vikings by 2009 so new aircraft can be introducted to recapitalize the aging fleet inventory. Their missions will be spread among the other battlegroup fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft.

ES-3A Shadow

The ES-3A Shadow ES-3A was designed as a carrier-based, subsonic, all-weather, long-range, electronic reconnaissance (ELINT) aircraft. All 16 aircraft were modified S-3 Viking airframes, which were modified with numerous additional antennas and antenna housings. The Shadow replaced the EA-3B Skywarrior, and entered fleet service in 1993.

The ES-3A operated primarily with carrier battle groups, providing organic ‘Indications and Warning’ support to the group and joint theater commanders. It carried an extensive suite of electronic sensors and communications gear, replacing the S-3’s submarine detection, armament, and maritime surveillance equipment with avionics racks accommodating the ES-3A’s sensors. These modifications had minor impact on airspeed, reducing its top rated speed from 450KTAS to 405KTAS but had no noticable impact on the aircraft's range and actually increased its rated loiter time. Because these aircraft were standoff indications and warnings platforms and were never intended to be part of an ingress strike package, this new speed limitation was considered insignificant.

The first ES-3A was delivered in 1991, entering service after two years of testing. The Navy established 2 squadrons of eight aircraft each. The VQ-5 Sea Shadows were originally based in Agana, Guam but later moved to NAS North Island, San Diego, California. The VQ-6 Black Ravens were originally based at NAS Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida, but later moved to NAS Jacksonville, approximately 15 miles away. Each squadron deployed a detachment aboard each U.S. aircraft carrier - a Detachment typically consisted of two aircraft, 10 Officers, and 55 Enlisted and contained four complete aircrews.

In addition to their warning and reconnaissance roles, and their extraordinarily stable handling characteristics and range, Shadows were a preferred recovery tanker (aircraft that provide refueling for returning aircraft). They averaged over 100 flight hours per month while deployed. Excessive utilization caused earlier than expected equipment replacement when Naval aviation funds were limited, making them an easy target for budget-driven decision makers. In 1999, both ES-3A squadrons and all 16 aircraft were decommissioned. The ES-3A inventory was placed in Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) storage.

History in Combat

In March of 2003, during Operation IRAQI FREEDOM, an S-3B Viking flown by Lt. Commander Richard G. McGrath launched from the USS Constellation.

McGrath and the Sea Control Squadron 38 (The "Red Griffins") crew successfully executed a time sensitive strike and fired a laser-guided Maverick missile to neutralize a significant Iraqi naval and leadership target in the port city of Basra, Iraq.

This was the first and only time in its long and distinguished operational history that the S-3B Viking had been employed overland on an offensive combat air strike and the first time it launched a laser-guided Maverick missile in combat.

Lt. Commander Carlos Sardiello acted as tactical control officer
Lt. Michael Harvey handled communications, navigation and weapons.

As "Navy One"

On May 1, 2003, US President George W. Bush rode in the co-pilot seat of a Viking that landed on USS "Abraham Lincoln", where he delivered his "Mission Accomplished" speech announcing the end of major combat in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. This was the only Navy flight to date to use the callsign "Navy One".

The aircraft that President Bush rode in was retired shortly after and on July 15th 2003 was accepted as an exhibit at the National Museum of Naval Aviation in Pensacola, Florida.


;S-3A:First production version, 186 built.;S-3B:Upgraded avionics, AN/APS-137 inverse synthetic aperture radar, Joint Tactical Information Distribution System, AGM-84 Harpoon launch capability, first flight September 13, 1984, 119 converted from S-3As.;ES-3A Shadow:ELINT aircraft, AN/APS-137 inverse synthetic aperture radar, first flight May 15, 1991, 16 converted from S-3A.;KS-3A:Proposed dedicated air tanker with fuel capacity of 4,382 US gal (16,600 L), one converted from YS-3A, later converted to US-3A.;KS-3B:Proposed air tanker based on S-3B and utilizing the buddy refueling system, not built.;US-3A:S-3A modified for carrier onboard delivery, capacity for six passengers or 4,680 lb (2,120 kg) of cargo, retired in 1998.;Alladin Viking:Classified modifications, used in the Bosnian War;Beartrap Viking:S-3Bs fitted with still-classified modifications.;Callypso Viking:Proposed anti-smuggling variant, not built.;Gray Wolf Viking:One aircraft fitted with AN/APG-76 radar in a modified cargo pod under the wing. Also dubbed SeaSTARS in reference to E-8 Joint STARS.;Orca Viking:Avionics testbed.;Outlaw Viking:One S-3B fitted with Over-the-horizon Airborne Sensor Information System (OASIS III), returned to regular S-3B in 1998. This particular Viking is now on display at the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum, located on the decommissioned USS Midway (CV-41).;NASA Viking:One aircraft was transformed into a state-of-the-art NASA research aircraft. The Navy's Fleet Readiness Center - Southeast and a Boeing facility in Fla. enhanced the plane by adding commercial satellite communications, global positioning navigation and weather radar systems. They installed research equipment racks in what was once the plane's bomb bay. NASA's S-3B Viking is equipped to conduct science and aeronautics missions, such as environmental monitoring, satellite communications testing and aviation safety research. [ [http://www.nasa.gov/topics/aeronautics/features/s3_viking.html NASA - Military Aircraft to Perform Aviation Safety Research ] ]


*United States Navy

pecifications (S-3A)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
ref=Standard Aircraft Characteristics [cite book|title=Standard Aircraft Characteristics. Navy Model S-3A Aircraft|id=Navair 00-110AS3-1]

crew=4 (Pilot, 2× Naval Flight Officers, Sensor Operator/TFO)
length main=53 ft 4 in
length alt=16.26 m
span main=
**Unfolded: 68 ft 8 in (20.93 m)
**Folded: 29 ft 6 in
span alt=9.00 m
area main=598 ft²
area alt=55.56 m²
height main=22 ft 9 in
height alt=6.93 m
empty weight main=26,581 lb
empty weight alt=12,057 kg
loaded weight main=38,192 lb
loaded weight alt=17,324 kg
max takeoff weight main=52,539 lb
max takeoff weight alt=23,831 kg
more general=
*Internal fuel capacity: 1,933 US gal (7,320 L) of JP-5 fuel
*External fuel capacity: 2x 300 US gal (1,136 L) tanks
engine (jet)=General Electric TF34-GE-2
type of jet=turbofans
number of jets=2
thrust main=9,275 lbf
thrust alt=41.26 kN
max speed main=
**429 knots (493 mph, 795 km/h) at sea level
**Mach 0.79, 450 knots
max speed alt=514 mph, 828 km/h
max speed more=at 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
cruise speed main=350 knots
cruise speed alt=405 mph, 650 km/h
stall speed main=97 knots
stall speed alt=112 mph, 180 km/h
ceiling main=40,900 ft
ceiling alt=12,465 m
climb rate main=5,120 ft/min
climb rate alt=26.0 m/s
combat radius main=2,765 nm
combat radius alt=3,182 mi, 5,121 km
loading main=68.5 lb/ft²
loading alt=334 kg/m²

* Up to 4,900 lb (2,220 kg) on four internal and two external hardpoints, including:
** 10× 500 lb (227 kg) Mark 82 bombs
** 2× 1000 lb (454 kg) Mark 83 bombs
** 2× 2000 lb (908 kg) Mark 84 bombs
** 6× CBU-100 cluster bombs
** 2× Mark 50 torpedoes
** 4× Mark 46 torpedoes
** 6× mines or depth charges
** 2× B57 nuclear bombs
** 2× AGM-65E/F Maverick missiles
** 2× AGM-84D Harpoon missiles
** 1× AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER missileThe two underwing hardpoints can also be fitted with unguided rocket pods or 300 US gal (1,136 L) fuel tanks.

* AN/APS-116 sea search radar, maximum range 150 nm (173 mi, 278 km)
** Upgraded on S-3B to AN/APS-137 Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar
** OR-89 forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera with 3x zoom
** AN/ARS-2 sonobuoy receiver with 13 blade antennas on the airframe for precise buoy location
** AN/ASQ-81 magnetic anomaly detector (MAD)
** AN/ASN-92 inertial guidance system with doppler radar navigation and TACAN
** Up to 62 sonobuoys

ee also

* CP-140 Aurora

similar aircraft=
* S-2 Tracker
* Fairey Gannet
* Breguet Alizé

* List of Lockheed aircraft
* List of military aircraft of the United States




* Winchester, Jim, ed. "Military Aircraft of the Cold War" (The Aviation Factfile). London: Grange Books plc, 2006. ISBN 1-84013-929-3.

External links

* [http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=1500&ct=1 S-3B Viking fact file] and [http://www.history.navy.mil/planes/s3.htm S-3 Viking history page on Navy.mil]

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