U.S. Navy bids farewell to the S-3 Viking

Jan 14 2016 - 12 Comments

The last two U.S. Navy S-3 Vikings have performed the final Navy flight.

After more than 40 years of service the last pair of S-3B Vikings took off for the last time from the runway at Naval Base Ventura County, Point Mugu, California, on Jan. 11.

Developed to replace the S-2 Tracker, the “Hoover” (as the S-3 was nicknamed by its aircrews) entered the active service in 1974 and served in a wide variety of roles such as the anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the air-to-air refueling, the electronic intelligence and the carrier onboard delivery (COD).

Officially withdrawn from U.S. Navy front-line service in 2009, two retired Vikings were assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 30 to monitor the vast Point Mugu Sea Range.  As explained by Capt. John Rousseau, who led the charge to bring the retired aircraft to VX-30, the S-3B was the perfect aircraft to patrol the range: “It’s got legs, it can go fast and long. The radar, even though it’s old, there’s not many better. We still spot schools of dolphins and patches of seaweed.”

The VX-30, that still operated three Vikings, retired the first of its S-3Bs in November when the airplane was flown to the military aircraft boneyard at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.

Unlike the two that launched from Point Mugu for the final Navy sortie, at least one will continue flying with NASA.

S-3 Viking Farewell
Top image: Scott Dworkin / U.S. Navy; Bottom image: Photographer’s Mate Airman Apprentice Nathan Laird / U.S. Navy 
  • Spencerhut

    What has taken over the S-3 Role?

    • A gaping hole filled with a vacuum.

    • sferrin

      Nothing.

    • Hail Mohammed

      Two Ospreys (to ensure that there’s one flying). If there is a need to actually operate off the coast, the Osprey flying will be refuelled by a 50 year old privately operated 707.

    • Arctic_Fox

      Hope and prayer.

  • Roland Lawrence

    One of the carrier greats! Be sad to see this one go. However did i not see another post saying that another country was looking at buying the serviceable ones up to use? From land though not from the sea this time.

  • InklingBooks

    They’re beautiful planes and deserving of preservation. Hopefully, the Navy will donate them to aviation museums rather than let them sit in the desert until they are in such bad shape, they can only be turned into pop cans.

  • Jan Schmidt

    One of my favourite ASW-Rocinantes (other is the Nimrod), sad to see it go, but i am hopeful they will be back. Eighty-seven S-3s are being kept in mothballs at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base.They will be able to fly for another 10,000 to 12,000 hours. Retired 2009, they could fill gaps in capability, which short sighted cost saving dogma caused…

  • sferrin

    Instead of fighting for the A-10 people should be fighting for these things. The USN is going to miss them big time in the coming years.

    • BobboTheKnobbo

      ^Thats one of the only intelligent things I’ve ever seen you post! *applause*

      • sferrin

        How would you know?

    • Hail Mohammed

      Or perhaps people should be fighting for all aircraft that actually work.

      At least the Osprey can carry as many very very dense objects as the Viking does, so it has at least one item where it matches up to its replacement, unlike a certain plane that’s making ((defence contractors)) rich. Just not for half the range, at anywhere near the same speed, anywhere near as safely.

      Of course, if substandard VIP transport was the goal, perhaps the F-14 should have been retained in that role as well as all the others it should have been saved for? Similar payload by weight, and I’m sure you could squeeze at least four people in one.