The Viking was designed in the late 1960s to replace the aging S-2 Tracker as the Navy’s carrier based, fixed wing anti-submarine aircraft. Incorporating the latest electronic and acoustic submarine hunting technology in an airframe powered by two highly efficient turbofan engines the S-3A greatly increased the Navy’s ability to locate and track Soviet nuclear submarines. The first Viking flew in January 1972 and so impressed the Navy that the first production contract was issued only three months later. Anti-submarine squadron 21 was the first to use the Viking operationally in 1974. The aircraft proved to be extremely safe, reliable, and versatile. In 1981, Lockheed began upgrading the existing Vikings to incorporate newer electronic systems and the ability to fire the Harpoon anti-ship missile. Eventually all anti-submarine equipment was removed and the Viking focused on anti-surface warfare, strike missions, and aerial refueling duties. The Viking was retired from front line service in 2009 with the last aircraft leaving testing duties in 2016.
Built by Lockheed Aircraft, Burbank, California and delivered to the Navy in 1978 as the 184th of 187 Vikings built. The detailed service history of this aircraft is not currently available; however, a few details are known. The aircraft was assigned to Sea Control Squadron 31 (VS-31) aboard the USS Eisenhower during Operation Desert Shield. Later it was transferred to Sea Control Squadron 21 (VS-21) at Naval Air Field Atsugi, Japan and deployed aboard the USS Kitty Hawk. The striking paint scheme on this aircraft was designed in 2004 for the disestablishment of VS-21. The aircraft was placed in storage at Davis-Monthan AFB in 2005. In 2006 the National Naval Aviation Museum placed it on loan to the Pima Air and Space Museum.
Sea Control Squadron 21 (VS-21), Naval Air Field Atsugi, Japan, 2004
Pima Air & Space Museum