The S-3A Viking replaced the S-2 Tracker and entered fleet service in l974. The S-3 is a carrier based, subsonic, all weather, long range, multi-mission aircraft. The Viking incorporated both acoustic and non-acoustic sensors to enhance its weapon system in support to its primary mission. It operated primarily with carrier battle groups in antisubmarine warfare zones. It carries automated weapon systems and is capable of extended missions with in-flight refueling.
In 1964 the Navy announced a requirement for a new carrier-based antisubmarine war-fare aircraft (designated VSX) to replace the aging Grumman S-2 Tracker. The new aircraft was to have twice the speed, range, and altitude capability of the S-2. It was designed to incorporate the latest concepts in sensors and in computer-based data processing, display and weapons control systems, and in enabling the four-man crew to effectively deal with the anticipated submarine threat. Remarkably, only five years elapsed from the time of contract award until the first aircraft was delivered to a fleet squadron in 1974.
The VSX program (S-3) started in 1968. In the development of the FY1969 budget request, the Secretary of Defense recommended disapproving development of a new carrier-based ASW aircraft (VSX). The JCS and the Secretary of the Navy recommended continuing VSX development. The Secretary of Defense deferred final decision pending further review. Subsequently, the Secretary of Defense approved development of the VSX as part of a plan for 5 CVS carriers and 4 air groups after the war in Southeast Asia, an Authorized Active Inventory (AAI) of 135 VSX aircraft, and a land-based patrol aircraft force of 24 P-3 squadrons when the VSX is phased in. The Secretary of Defense also recommended reducing the end FY 69 force by 2 CVS air groups to bring the number of air groups into balance with the available carriers.
The VSX design competition started in 1968, and, in 1969, Lockheed was awarded the contract to develop the Navy's new carrier-based, fan-powered ASW aircraft. Vought played a major role in construction of the S-3 by producing the wings, empennage, and landing gear. It was designed to incorporate the latest concepts in sensors and in computer-based data processing, display and weapons control systems, and in enabling the four-man crew to effectively deal with the anticipated submarine threat. In fiscal year 1973 Lockheed Aircraft Corp. with a total of $1,659 million or 5.3% in DoD prime contract awards headed the list of the top 100 for the fifth consecutive year. This was a decrease of $47 million from fiscal year 1972, however, the company's share of the total DoD contract volume was approximately the same as last year. Whereas the pattern of awards in recent years had shwon the aircraft contracts for this company assignable to the C-5 Galaxy Aircraft, in fiscal year 1973 the largest contract volume was for the S-3A Viking Anti-submarine Warfare Aircraft.
On January 21st 1972, the first flight of the Navy's S-3A "Viking" ushered in a new era in Under Sea Warfare. Built by Lockheed, this carrier based, twin-turbofan jet dramatically improved the Anti-Submarine warfare and Surface Surveillance capability of the Navy. Built by Lockheed California Company, the S-3A was the Navy's premier carrier-based antisubmarine platform designed to counter the surface and subsurface threat to the carrier battle group since 1975.
The 1976 deployment aboard USS ENTERPRISE (CVN-65) was the first Western Pacific deployment for the Navy's modern CV concept. Along with the S-3A Viking and an on board Tactical Support Center (TSC), HS-2 contributed to the refinement and success of modern day ASW tactics.
As the Cognizant Field Authority (CFA)/Designated Rework Point (DRP) for the S-3A aircraft and related equipment the 'Javal Air Rework Facility (NARF), Alameda, California managed the ASPA program for the aircraft since its inception in 1984. Since the introduction of the S-3A Viking aircraft into the U.S. Navy in the early 1970's, the number of pilots within the S-3A community had steadily decreased. Two policies were implemented to reduce the number of S-3A pilots. The intent of these policies was to improve morale and mission effectiveness. With the decrease of the number of S-3A pilots, an increase in the utilization of the naval flight officer was effected.
The last production S-3A was delivered in August 1978, with 187 being the total number of aircraft built. The S-3A airframe has been adapted to other roles--a characteristic for which its S-2 predecessor has long been noted. Early variants of the S-3 included the CS-3A (cargo version), KS-3A (dedicated tanker), and US-3A (personnel transport, or COD aircraft) - these versions have been either reconverted or put in storage. The S-3A was upgraded and was designated the S-3B when modifications were completed in 1994. Also, 16 S-3As were converted to ES-3As for carrier based electronic reconnaissance.
The General Electric TF34 turbofan engine was originally developed for the US Navy's S-3A Viking surveillance and precision-targeting aircraft. It enables the A-10 Thunderbolt close-air support aircraft to operate from short, remote airfields and withstand frequent exposure to ground fire. The 9,000-pound thrust class engine delivers the highest thrust-to-weight ratio and the lowest specific fuel consumption of its class. In service, the engine has proven to be highly reliable and maintainable with low operating costs. The commercial version of the TF34, the General Electric CF34, powers several types of business jets and regional airliners.
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