Lockheed Martin is entering the fray to replace the U.S. Navy’s ageing fleet of Northrop Grumman C-2 Greyhound carrier onboard delivery (COD) aircraft.
The company is proposing to refurbish and modify retired Lockheed S-3 Viking anti-submarine warfare aircraft — currently in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona — to fill the nascent Navy requirement. The rebuilt aircraft would be designated the C-3.
“There is actually 91 [S-3 airframes in storage], but 87 are useable,” Jeffery Cramer, Lockheed’s COD program manager told USNI News on Tuesday.
“There’s about 9000 flight hours remaining on each of those airframes on average.”
In fact, that’s just until the first wing inspection, Cramer said. There are actually more flight hours available on those retired S-3s, which were originally built to last for 18,750 hours. Cramer noted, the COD mission is far more benign than the challenging anti-submarine role.
To refurbish the S-3, Lockheed would completely disassemble the Viking airframe, Cramer said. While the company intends to keep the wings, empennage, engines and flight controls, the fuselage would be discarded. In its place, the S-3 would receive a larger fuselage purposely built for the COD mission. The new fuselage is 22 inches wider and six feet longer and the aircraft would stand about three feet taller.
This is pretty much a non-starter idea. It’s far more likely (and likely cheaper) to get new build C-2s.
As for the airframes in storage, South Korea wants a dozen or so as shore based maritime patrol aircraft, and to build familiarity with carrier capable aircraft.