January 22, 1999

Force prepares S-3B Viking demonstrator for new role

The Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division S-3B Integrated Product Team (IPT) recently assumed the lead role in reconfiguring an S-3B Viking into the precursor of the 21st century Viking equipped with precision surveillance and targeting (PS&T).

"The S-3B fills the need for a responsive third party targeting platform which can be deployed anytime, anywhere with the cutting edges of naval power projection-the carrier battle group and amphibious ready group," said Cmdr. Harry E. Wedewer, the S-3B avionics system project officer in the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) Avionics Department, who is overseeing the effort for the Navy.

A fleet S-3B arrived here in November 1998 from the West Coast Fleet Replacement Squadron, VS-41, and has been undergoing integration efforts at the Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron. The installation and integration work for the S-3B PS&T is being conducted by the same NAWCAD team headed by Bob Zurkowski and Jay Clarke of Veda Inc. who have led innovative S-3B installation efforts in the past including the "Outlaw Viking," "Greywolf" and MAVERICK.

Installation is expected to last about six months to be followed by ground and flight test at Patuxent River during the summer of 1999. Lt. Cmdr. Nigel Nurse and Tim Twigg, of Naval Force Aircraft Test Squadron, are heading the test effort. "The PS&T S-3B will introduce fleet aircrew to a range of new man-machine interfaces including incorporation of a windows operating system environment," Nurse said. Upon completion of testing at Patuxent River, the PS&T S-3B will return to VS-41 at Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., to begin a period of operational service with fleet squadrons.

The PS&T effort is intended to transform the Viking from its traditional role in anti-submarine warfare to the PS&T platform of the next century. The S-3B PS&T will provide "man-in-the loop," real-time, surveillance and targeting of littoral and overland targets of interest in a direct support, carrier-based role. It will fill the niche between the capabilities of the Joint Surveillance Tracking and Reconnaissance (JSTARS) aircraft of the Air Force and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) such as Predator/Pioneer.

Naval Air Station Patuxent River has historically been home to the development of the S-3 Viking including the development of the S-3B series which saw the introduction of the Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar capability to fleet service. At the heart of the PS&T S-3B is the AYK-23 data processing system which replaces the aircraft's current AYK-10 general purpose digital computer. The AYK-23 is a classic open architecture system with a "plug 'n' play" feature which allows peripheral sensors and connectivity sensors to be mated to the S-3B's avionics suite without costly upgrades. Those plug and play systems include the Joint Tactical Information Distribution System for LINK 16, the APS-137B(V)5 Synthetic Aperture and Inverse Synthetic Aperture Radar and Tactical Common Data Link. These capabilities packaged into the S-3B will provide carrier battle group and amphibious ready group commanders with an organic responsive targeting platform which will in turn allow the more effective use of the increasing number of precision standoff weapons in the Navy's inventory. The S-3B's combination of range, endurance, crew configuration and long-term airframe life uniquely suit it for the precision surveillance and targeting role.

The S-3B PS&T effort is also a case study in acquisition reform with a joint Navy and industry project and engineering teaming arrangement. This has allowed for a cost-effective effort which maximizes the sharing of resources. Integral members of this unique Navy-industry team include NAVAIR's PMA-290, the Space and Naval Warfare Command, the Naval Sea Systems Command, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon Systems Company, GEC-Marconi Hazeltine, Boeing, L-3 Communications and NAWCAD.

"Foremost in my view is the Navy's requirement for a platform and sensors which can provide surveillance for and adequately target GPS guided standoff weapons such as the Joint Standoff Weapon and the Joint Direct Attack Munition which are entering the inventory in increasing numbers," Wedewer said. "We think the S-3B fills that need because when you stop and think about it, the S-3B has been carrying out precision surveillance and targeting in the blue water arena for a number of years. PS&T reflects a low cost, natural progression of that role."

(This information was provided by the S-3B Precision Surveillance and Targeting Integrated Product Team.)

Last updated: 1.22.99