Lockheed Martin has proposed a carrier onboard delivery (COD) variant of its S-3 Viking aircraft to meet a US Navy requirement to replace its ageing C-2 Greyhounds.
The S-3 was retired from US Navy frontline service in 2008 after a career providing carrier-borne anti-submarine, electronic warfare and air-to-air refuelling capability. A large number of aircraft are currently in storage in the AMARG ‘Boneyard’ in Arizona.
Dubbed C-3, Lockheed proposes to mate redesigned centre and rear fuselage sections including a rear loading ramp to refurbished S-3 wings, forward fuselage and empennage sections in order to be able to carry aircraft engines and other outsized cargo to the ship.
“There is actually 91 (S-3 airframes in storage), but 87 are useable,” Jeffery Cramer, Lockheed’s COD program manager told USNI News on April 8. “There’s about 9,000 flight hours remaining on each of those airframes on average.” The S-3 was designed to fly for 18,750 hours, meaning most of the airframes in storage are only half way to their first major wing spar inspection.
Other contenders for the COD requirement are likely to be Northrop Grumman with remanufactured or new-build C-2s using systems developed for the new E-2D Hawkeye, and Bell/Boeing with a COD version of the V-22 Osprey.