S-3B Viking Testing Concludes @ PAXRVR

S-3B Viking Testing Concludes
Story Number: NNS040921-01
Release Date: 9/21/2004 6:28:00 AM

From Naval Air Systems Command Public Affairs, Maritime Patrol Aircaft Program Office

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS)—Carrier suitability tests for an upgrade to the S-3B Viking concluded Sept. 1 here, and the last remaining Patuxent River-based S-3B aircraft was transferred to the fleet. This achievement gives this platform an enhanced capability to better meet fleet needs until the retirement of the aircraft in coming years.

“This event marks the end of an era for the S-3B,” said Cmdr. Ron Carlson, S-3B department head in the Maritime Surveillance Aircraft Program (PMA 290). “The Navy no longer has any S-3 aircraft assigned to developmental or operational test agencies.”

The S-3B Viking is an all weather, carrier-based jet aircraft, providing protection against hostile surface combatants while also functioning as the carrier strike group's primary overhead/mission tanker. Extremely versatile, the aircraft is equipped for many missions, including day/night surveillance, electronic countermeasures, command/control/communications warfare, and search and rescue.

Cmdr. Alan Micklewright of Fleet Aircraft Test Squadron (VX) 20, and Lt. Jamie Chitko, of VX-1, flew VX-1’s S-3B for the first day of the event, which consisted of catapult testing. Lt. Cmdr. Scott Josselyn of VX-20 joined Micklewright for the second day’s carrier landing tests in support of the Mass Memory Unit (MMU) project.

MMU is a digital mission playback system, the AN/ASH-42 Digital Data Set, that revolutionizes the way S-3B Viking aircrew handle mission data. The system replaces the S-3B digital memory unit and transportable cartridge, as well as the USH-42 Mission Recorder/Reproducer Set. In the new system, a 14-gigabyte flash drive, called the removable memory module, will replace both the 8 mm recorder tapes and the large transportable cartridge that contained the mission program and preflight data.

"The Mass Memory Unit upgrade shows the commitment to the S-3 mission in the remaining years prior to sundown," said Chitko, VX-1 S-3 Operational test director.

With an accompanying ground station, Viking air crew will be able to program all preflight data, such as electronic emitter parameters, navigation references, and LINK-11, in the comfort of their own ready room on a laptop computer integrated with the Navy Portable Flight Planning System. Additionally, all post-flight analysis, including review of in-flight recorded video and audio, will be possible at the same laptop ground station.

Interoperability with the Carrier Tactical Support Centers ashore or afloat will no longer be required, as air crew aboard the S-3B assume these capabilities. Completion of this modification in all S-3B aircraft is planned to take place during fiscal year 2005.

The aircraft used for the testing was subsequently transferred Sept. 13 from VX-1 to the Sea Control Squadron (VS) 24 Scouts to become a deployable fleet asset. Chitko and Lt. Cmdr. Mark Andreas, VX-1’s training officer, flew Pax River’s last remaining S-3B to Jacksonville, Fla., for the transfer.

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