||The World's Most Versatile Carrier-Based Aircraft
Lockheed Martin Aeronautics Company's S-3 Viking, called the "Swiss Army Knife of Naval Aviation," remains one of the most successful designs in carrier aircraft history. First built in the 1970s, most of the 187 original Viking airframes are not only still flying, their strategic role is expanding and projected well into the 21st century.
Conceived primarily for anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the Viking has proven itself so versatile that its current mission is called simply "Sea Control." It does so many things so well: surface and undersea warfare, mine warfare, electronic reconnaissance and analysis, over-the-horizon targeting, missile attack, and aerial tanking.
Airwing commanders, known for being thrifty with deck space, make extra room for the versatile S-3. Carrier captains appreciate its abilities to launch and recover downwind, and stay up for hours. Pampering is not required; this plane generates a 45-percent reduction in maintenance man-hours per flight-hour.
The S-3 Viking should also be a hit with taxpayers. The current S-3B was built as an upgrade of the original S-3A. An essentially new airplane was created for next-generation missions, without high development costs or lengthy timetables. So if "V" is for Viking and versatile, maybe the "S" is for sensible, smart and seaworthy.