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Lockheed / Vought S-3 Viking

Naval Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) / Aerial Tanker Aircraft


The Lockheed-Vought S-3 Viking series was the first digitally-minded Anti-Submarine Warfare platform adopted for service with the United States Navy.

Detailing the development and operational history of the Lockheed / Vought S-3 Viking Naval Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) / Aerial Tanker Aircraft.  Entry last updated on 10/19/2018. Authored by Staff Writer. Content ©
The S-3 Viking series of carrier-borne aircraft was a joint production effort from the Lockheed and Vought aircraft firms. Selected from no fewer than five proposals from various other companies an including the two aforementioned firms, the S-3 was designed to a United States Navy requirement for an anti-submarine aircraft platform built around the then-powerful Univac digital computer. The system was a direct result of the ever elusive new generation of Soviet submarines constantly testing the waters in an around the United States. The Viking would go on to become the Navy's most advanced and all-computerized aircraft at the time.

By 1972, the YS-3A was developed into eight service evaluation models. Vought's contribution to the overall aircraft was in the production of the wing elements, tail assembly, engine nacelles and the landing gears system. The resulting aircraft was a highly-identifiable high-shoulder mounted wing design with the two large General Electric turbofans hung underneath. Crew accommodations amounted to a total of four and included a pilot, copilot, sensor systems operator and the tactical coordinator. A single large rudder was fixed atop the tail assembly. An internal weapons bay provided storage for up to four torpedoes, bombs and mines.

Upgrades to the base S-3A system eventually produced the standardized S-3B, fitted with updated acoustic processing, newer sonorbouy system, improved radar and the ability to mount, target and fire the powerful AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile system on two new external hardpoints to compliment the internally-held stores. Most all existing "A" models were now modernized to the "B" standard. B-models were field by 1984.

With the need for such a dedicated anti-submarine system diminished on the new modern battlefield, the S-3 system has be relegated to "buddy" tanking services. As such, fewer and fewer S-3 systems are kept aboard carrier groups these days, though the system itself is intended to be fielded up through 2015. An electronic warfare conversion model exists as the ES-3A "Shadow" Elint as well.


YEAR: 1974
STATUS: Retired, Out-of-Service
MANUFACTURER(S): Lockheed / Vought - USA
LENGTH: 53.35 ft (16.26 m)
WIDTH: 68.67 ft (20.93 m)
HEIGHT: 22.74 ft (6.93 m)
EMPTY WEIGHT: 26,649 lb (12,088 kg)
MTOW: 52,541 lb (23,832 kg)
POWER: 2 x General Electric TF-34-GE-2 turbofan engines developing 9,275 lb of thrust each.
SPEED: 506 mph (814 kph; 440 kts)
CEILING: 35,007 feet (10,670 m; 6.63 miles)
RANGE: 2,302 miles (3,705 km; 2,001 nm)
RATE-OF-CLIMB: 4,200 ft/min (1,280 m/min)
OPERATORS: United States

Internal Weapons Bay cleared for the carrying of 4 x Torpedoes OR 4 x Mk 36 Destructors OR 4 x Mk 82 Drop Bombs OR 4 x Mk 53 Naval Mines

Underwing Hardpoints (S-3B only) for 2 x Torpedoes OR 2 x AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles OR 2 x AGM-65 Maverick air-to-ground missiles OR 2 x Rocket Pods.
Graphical image of an aircraft air-to-surface missile
Graphical image of an aircraft anti-ship missile
Graphical image of an aircraft rocket pod
Graphical image of an aircraft aerial torpedo
Graphical image of an aircraft conventional drop bomb munition
Variants / Models

• YS-3A - Service Evaluation Models of which eight were produced.
• S-3A - Initial Production Variant of which 187 were produced.
• S-3B - Improved S-3A model set as "standard" by 1984; ability to field and fire the AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile; most all existing S-3A models were coverted to B level.
• US-3A - USN model operated as Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) sans anti-submarine warfare equipment; four utilized in this fashion.
• KS-3A - Single dedicated tanker variant (evaluation model only).
• ES-3A "Shadow" Elint - Electronic Warfare Variant.

General Assessment

Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
MF Power Rating
The MF Power Rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry. The rating is out of 100 total possible points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (506mph).

Graph average of 562.5 miles-per-hour.
City-to-City Ranges
Graph showcases the Lockheed / Vought S-3A Viking's operational range (on internal fuel) when compared to distances between major cities.
Aviation Era
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Pie graph section
Useful in showcasing the era cross-over of particular aircraft/aerospace designs.
Unit Production (280)
Comm. Market HI*: 44,000 units
Military Market HI**: 36,183 units

  * Commercial Market High belongs to Cessna 172.

  ** Military Market High belongs to Ilyushin Il-2.

Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Supported Roles
Ground Attack
Aerial Tanker
A2A=Air-to-Air; UAV=Unmanned; CAS=Close Support; ASW=Anti-Submarine; AEW=Airborne Early Warning; MEDEVAC=Medical Evac; EW=Electronic Warfare; SAR=Search-Rescue
Commitments / Honors
Military lapel ribbon for Operation Allied Force
Military lapel ribbon for the Arab-Israeli War
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Britain
Military lapel ribbon for the Battle of Midway
Military lapel ribbon for the Berlin Airlift
Military lapel ribbon for the Chaco War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cold War
Military lapel ribbon for the Cuban Missile Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for pioneering aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the Falklands War
Military lapel ribbon for the French-Indochina War
Military lapel ribbon for the Golden Age of Flight
Military lapel ribbon for the 1991 Gulf War
Military lapel ribbon for the Indo-Pak Wars
Military lapel ribbon for the Iran-Iraq War
Military lapel ribbon for the Korean War
Military lapel ribbon for the 1982 Lebanon War
Military lapel ribbon for the Malayan Emergency
Military lapel ribbon representing modern aircraft
Military lapel ribbon for the attack on Pearl Harbor
Military lapel ribbon for the Six Day War
Military lapel ribbon for the Soviet-Afghan War
Military lapel ribbon for the Spanish Civil War
Military lapel ribbon for the Suez Crisis
Military lapel ribbon for the Vietnam War
Military lapel ribbon for Warsaw Pact of the Cold War-era
Military lapel ribbon for the WASP (WW2)
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 1
Military lapel ribbon for the World War 2
Military lapel ribbon for the Yom Kippur War
Military lapel ribbon for experimental x-plane aircraft
* Ribbons not necessarily indicative of actual historical campaign ribbons. Ribbons are clickable to their respective campaigns/operations.

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