The Weapon System Improvement Program [WSIP] improvements were intended to improve the S-3A's capability to meet current and projected submarine threats to the CV Battle Group. The program was intended to modify 160 S-3 aircraft with improved acoustic processing, expanded electronic support measure coverage, increased radar processing capabilities, a new sonobuoy receiver system, and a Harpoon missile capability. On 13 August 1980, a Navy Decision Coordinating Paper (NDCP), NDCP W0489-AS, was approved by the Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) that authorized conditional Full-scale Engineering Development (FSED) utilizing FY80 funding. This phase completed investigation of subsystem design alternatives, initiated preparation of weapon system design specifications and critical radar hardware development, and also provided for development of specific system/subsystem acquisition strategies including Government Furnished Equipment (GFE)/Contractor Furnished Equipment (CFE) considerations and competitive procurement strategies.
The major components of the WSIP were the following:
- AN/UYS-l(V) Advanced Signal Processor (ASP).
- OL-320/AYS Data processing--Memory Group.
- AN/ARR-78(V)2 Sonobuoy Receiver (Advanced Sonobuoy Communication Link) (ASCL).
- AN/AQH-7 Analog Tape Recorder (ATR).
- AN/ARS-4 Sonobuoy Reference System (SRS).
- AN/APS-137(V) Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR).
- AN/ALR-76 Electronic Support Measures (ESM).
- AN/ALE-39 Electronic Counter Measures (ECM).
- AN/AYK-10B General Purpose Digital Computer (GPDC) hardware and software.
- AGM-84D/AWG-19(V) Air to Surface Harpoon.
Because of their carrier-based ASW expertise in the development of the original S-3, Lockheed Company of California was selected as the systems integration contractor. Integrated Logistics Support (ILS) considerations were determined to have a high priority throughout the WSIP. This emphasis on ILS reflected the findings of a GAO report that suggested to Congress that the "Navy needs to increase S-3A readiness to ensure effective use of the planned weapon system improvement."
The Department of the Navy Systems Acquisition Review Council (DNSARC) was held on 11 July 1985. This Council authorized the WSIP program to proceed with Milestone IIIA (ALP). TECHEVAL is the formal ground and flight testing performed by NAVAIRTESTCEN. This testing is used to determine compliance of system performance to specification requirements and will provide a basis for certification of the system to commence operational evaluation. NAVAIRTESTCEN completed TECHEVAL on 25 April 1986 and recommended the S-3A WSIP for OPEVAL. The command which conducted this testing was the Operational Test and Evaluation Force (OPTEVFOR) Patuxent River, Maryland. OPEVAL was suspended on 19 September 1986. The OPEVAL is an operational evaluation of the program under realistic conditions. The suspension was permitted to allow the correction of the software deficiencies identified by OPTEVFOR. The second OPEVAL began on 8 December 1987 and completed it several months later on 11 April 1988. The first limited production S-3B was rolled out at Naval Air Station Cecil Field, Jacksonville, Florida, on 17 December 1987.
S-3B Aircraft Upgrades
Soviet improvements were considered to be able to lessen the ASW tactical effectiveness of the S-3A weapon system in the 1980+ time period. Furthermore, a sea control force concept change, from CVA/CVS to CV, had evolved since the S-3A design freeze in 1968. The reason for these improvements were as a result of recent advancements within the Soviet submarine force, and an attempt to ease parts availability, in addition to saving substantial sums of money through the use of common components.
The S-3B Aircraft had increased capabilities through improvements to the general purpose digital computer, acoustic data processor, radar, sonobuoy receiver, sonobuoy reference system, and electronic support measures, and includes the installation of an electronic countermeasures dispensing system and the Harpoon Missile System. It also encompasses provisions for the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System. S-3B improvements needed to demonstrate substantial state of the art improvements over the S-3A. These improvements were to provide improved C3, surface surveillance control (SSC), surface ship attack (ASUW), and antisubmarine warfare (ASW) sensor and weapon delivery capability, in addition to the added capability for stand-off attack of surface ships. Major system parameters were subject to tradeoff studies to assure a balanced cost-effective design. The goal was to improve the S-3 with a minimum of new hardware development. The improvements the S-3 required at the time of the initial operational requirement were focused on the S-3's ability to perform both offensive and defensive ocean sea control and ASW missions.
The Communications Control Group [CCG] provides improved communication capability and greatly improved reliability over the Switching Logic Unit and Intercommunication System used in the S-3A. Beginning in FY95 and finishing in FY98, CCGs were installed in all S-3B aircraft.
The Global Positioning System [GPS] modification complied with the requirement for the S-3B Aircraft to have Federal Aviation Administration certifiable GPS Radio Navigation capability. The GPS provides increased operational capability and mission effectiveness by providing precise navigation position information during all phases of aircraft operations. The Global Positioning System [GPS] modification replaced the Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN) portion of the S-3B Aircraft TACAN Inertial Navigation System once TACAN is phased out. The GPS and AN/USH-42 modifications were concurrent installations that began in FY98 and were completed in August 2000.
The AN/USH-42 Mission Recorder Reproducer Set [MR/RS] replaced the obsolete and unsupportable RO457 Video Signal Recorder. It allows for multi-channel recording of S-3B Aircraft Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar, Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR), and mission avionics data. The capability for in-flight video recording, in-flight and post-flight playback, analysis, and duplication are also new features. The GPS and AN/USH-42 modifications were concurrent installations that began in FY98 and were completed in August 2000.
AFC 261, S-3B Flap Track Rib Reinforcement modification, installs are complete.
AFC 263, S-3B Fuel System Improvement, is performed only when the fuel cell is open and will be complete in FY03.
AFC 265, S-3B Flight Control System Refurbishment, began in FY99 and completed in FY03.
AFC 266, S-3B Horizontal Stabilizer Improvement, began in FY98 and completed in FY03.
AFC 273, Digital Flight Data Computer upgrade, began in May 2000 on the West Coast [the East Coast will follow], and completed in 2002. The AN/ASW-33 Digital Flight Data Computer is a direct replacement of equipment. Differences in weight and balance are negligible. Maintenance capability at the organizational level is significantly enhanced due to incorporation of a highly comprehensive Built-In Test Equipment (BITE) capability. AFC 273 directs the replacement of the CP-1074A/ASW-33 Flight Data Computer with the more reliable CP-1074B/ASW-33 Digital Flight Data Computer.
AFC 274, AN/AYK-23 Computer Processor Memory Unit [CPMU], is a replacement for the AN/AYK-10 General Purpose Digital Computer used to monitor and coordinate the routine functions of various electronic systems in the S-3B. This upgrade is similar to the CAINS II upgrade with modern digital technology replacing older, less reliable analog technology. Computer Processor Memory Unit installation began in August 1999 and completed in September 2004. AFC 274 was only funded for 65 aircraft.
AFC 279, Carrier Airborne Inertial Navigation System II [CAINS II] Upgrade, EGI Upgrade, and EFI Upgrade began in FY98 on the East Coast; the West Coast will follow and be completed in 2002. The CAINS II Upgrade, under AFC 279, improves the reliability of the existing Inertial Navigation System by replacing the AHRS, Doppler Radar, and analog flight instruments. The installation of the CAINS II, Embedded Ground Positioning System Inertial Navigation System (EGI), Electronic Flight Instruments (EFI), and Navigation Interface Unit (NIU) will accomplish this needed upgrade. AFC 279 removes the existing Attitude Heading Reference System (AHRS), Doppler Radar, and analog flight instruments. Required wiring and structure are modified to incorporate the changes. Following modification and prior to the first flight, the aircraft must again be weighed and the center of balance recalculated in accordance with Naval Air (NAVAIR) 01-1B-40. Due to the weight reduction, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAVAIRWARCENACDIV) Patuxent River, Maryland, will recalculate the weight, balance, and moment of the aircraft. Compliance with AFC 279 began in FY98, to be completed in 2002, with the East Coast activities being done first.
AFC 284, the S-3B Reconfiguration and Modification to Non-ASW S-3B aircraft, began in FY99 and the installations were completed in FY00. During FY97 and FY98, four S-3B Aircraft were modified to employ the AGM-65F Infrared Maverick Missile. The Maverick modification kits were installed for fleet demonstration project purposes and are presently in the Research and Development (R&D) stage. The four prototype S-3Bs are currently being cross-decked from deployed squadron to deployed squadron. AFC 284 redefined the composition of Sea Control Squadrons (VS). All selected S-3Bs were redesigned by removal of selected systems. The removal of these systems resulted in a weight reduction in excess of 834 pounds per aircraft. Systems removed from the S-3B include detection, receiving, processing, and delivery equipment for Acoustic/Magnetic ASW and Mining, and 44 of 60 Sonobuoy Chutes. After removal of these systems, associated wiring was stowed in place and blank-off plates installed internally and externally on the aircraft, as appropriate to seal off affected areas. Compliance with AFC 284 began late in FY99, and was completed in FY00.
ECP 423, S-3B Communications Improvement Program [CIP Upgrade], began in FY98 and is scheduled for completion in FY09. Howeverfunding was only available through FY03.
In addition, plans were underway to install Stand-Off Land Attack Missile (SLAM) Extended Range (ER) and Maverick capability in all S-3B aircraft. The Armament Control System (ARMCOS) will not be replaced by a new SMS but will be upgraded to accommodate new weapons and to protect against obsolescence. A new Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS) will also be installed along with a new Low Probability Intercept Altimeter (LPIA) to replace the AN/APN-194 Altimeter. This is a form, fit, and function installation. These projects are currently in the R&D stage.
Carrier suitability tests for an upgrade to the S-3B Viking concluded 01 September 2004, and the last remaining Patuxent River-based S-3B aircraft was transferred to the fleet. This achievement gives this platform an enhanced capability to better meet fleet needs until the retirement of the aircraft in coming years. This event marks the end of an era for the S-3B. The Navy no longer had any S-3 aircraft assigned to developmental or operational test agencies.
The Mass Memory Unit (MMU) MMU is a digital mission playback system, the AN/ASH-42 Digital Data Set, that revolutionizes the way S-3B Viking aircrew handle mission data. The system replaces the S-3B digital memory unit and transportable cartridge, as well as the USH-42 Mission Recorder/Reproducer Set. In the new system, a 14-gigabyte flash drive, called the removable memory module, will replace both the 8 mm recorder tapes and the large transportable cartridge that contained the mission program and preflight data. The Mass Memory Unit upgrade shows the commitment to the S-3 mission in the remaining years prior to sundown.
With an accompanying ground station, Viking air crew will be able to program all preflight data, such as electronic emitter parameters, navigation references, and LINK-11, in the comfort of their own ready room on a laptop computer integrated with the Navy Portable Flight Planning System. Additionally, all post-flight analysis, including review of in-flight recorded video and audio, will be possible at the same laptop ground station. Interoperability with the Carrier Tactical Support Centers ashore or afloat will no longer be required, as air crew aboard the S-3B assume these capabilities. Completion of this modification in all S-3B aircraft took place during fiscal year 2005. Lockheed Martin's Full-Scale Fatigue Test to determine the aircraft's fatigue life expended and areas of structural concern was completed in 2004. The results demonstrated that the basic service life of the airframe could be as high as 23,000 flight hours. The average number of flight hours on all S-3Bs is currently less than 13,000 flight hours. In March 2006, CNAF approved the modification of 13 S-3Bs to carry the Low Altitude Navigation Targeting Infrared for Night (LANTIRN) system, obtained from retiring F-14D Tomcat aircraft, to fulfill NTISR mission requirements in support of Global War on Terror (GWOT). Additionally, a video data transmission system has been installed to facilitate the sending of all aircraft sensor video to ground units equipped with the Rover III tactical ground station. One prototype has been delivered to VS-32 and is presently deployed. The remainder of the installs LANTIRN and video transmission systems will be completed by early 2007, enabling the S-3B Viking to remain a viable multi-mission platform until 2009.
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