The Last Viking NASA’s S-3B

Tom Kaminski examines the NASA career of the final Lockheed S-3B Viking in service.

The NASA Viking on approach to Air Force Plant 42 during an October 2010 visit to NASA Dryden’s Aircraft Operations Facility in Palmdale, California.
NASA/Raymond Rivard

Designed originally to hunt submarines in the Cold War, the Lockheed S-3 Viking proved to be a versatile aircraft, a trait that NASA recognised and sought to capitalise on. It has been using one of these former US Navy aircraft for a range of airborne testing and research work for which it has proved adept.

The aircraft in question BuNo 160607, now N601NA, is one of 187 S-3As produced by Lockheed at its Burbank and Palmdale, California, facilities. The type, known affectionately as the ‘Hoover’ due to the vacuum-like sound of its twin General Electric TF34-GE-400 turbofans, first flew on January 21, 1972 when the YS-3A prototype took to the air.

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