The S-3 Viking was a carrier-based anti-submarine aircraft developed by the Lockheed Corporation and used by the US Navy during the Cold War. The Viking prototype, the YS-3A, made its first test flight on January 21, 1972, and became operational with the US Navy on February 20, 1974. Although the S-3 was conceived to detect, track, and attack Soviet submarines, in the 1990’s the S-3’s mission objective shifted to surface warfare and aerial refueling. Lockheed manufactured 187 units in six variants: S-3A, S-3B, ES-3A (electronic countermeasures), KS-3A (tanker), KS-3B, and US-3A.
The S-3 Viking was a two-engine, subsonic jet aircraft fitted with high-mounted, cantilever, 15°-swept wings. The S-3 was powered by two GE TF-34 high-bypass turbofan engines which were mounted in nacelles under the wings. The wings were fitted with leading edge and Fowler flaps. Spoilers were fitted to both the upper and the lower surfaces of the wings. All control surfaces were actuated by dual hydraulically boosted irreversible systems.
The S-3 first operational cruise was accomplished in 1975 with the VS-21 "Fighting Redtails" aboard the aircraft-carrier USS John F. Kennedy. The S-3B was used during the 1991 Gulf War, performing attack and tanker duties, and launching ADM-141 TALD decoys. The aircraft also took part in the Yugoslav wars in the 1990s and in Operation Enduring Freedom in 2001. In March 2003, during Operation Iraqi Freedom, an S-3B Viking from Sea Control Squadron 38 launched from USS Constellation 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.
Specifications for the S-3 Viking
Type: carrier-based anti-submarine aircraft
engine: two General Electric TF34-GE-2 turbofans with a thrust of 9,275 lbf (41.26 kN) each
Maximum speed: 514 mph (828 km/h) at 20,000 ft (6,100 m)
Combat radius: 3,182 mi (5,121 km)
Length: 53 ft 4 in (16.26 m)
Wingspan: 68 ft 8 in (20.93 m)
Crew: 4 (Pilot, two Naval Flight Officers, and a Sensor Operator/TFO)
Avionics: AN/APS-137 Inverse Synthetic Aperture sea search radar; AN/ARS-2 sonobuoy receiver with 13 blade antennas on the airframe for precise buoy location
Weapons: could carry up to 4,900 lb (2,220 kg) of bombs of all types on four internal and two external hardpoints
S-3 Viking Documentary (Video)