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