Apr 12, 2014

Lockheed Revives an Old Idea for New Carrier Cargo Plane

The Northrop Grumman C-2A has been a familiar sight aboard US aircraft carriers for decades, shuttling people and cargo from ship to shore in the carrier-on-board-delivery (COD) role. The venerable aircraft are wearing out, and an unusually intense competition between Northrop Grumman and Bell Boeing already has garnered attention, even though the program to buy 35 replacement aircraft is not expected to officially begin until next year at the earliest.
Now, a third player has entered the COD fray, with Lockheed Martin offering refurbished and remanufactured versions of its S-3 Viking antisubmarine aircraft, nearly all of which were retired by early 2009. Ninety-one of the aircraft remain in storage at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona.
Those aircraft still have quite a bit of life on them, having flown an average of 9,000 hours.
Designed in the early 1970s as a carrier-based anti-submarine aircraft, the Viking was used in its later service years as a tanker. Lockheed’s COD proposal — dubbed the C-3 — would replace the S-3’s fuselage with a wider version, but retain the original wings, tail assembly, engines and crew compartment.
A refurbished and remanufactured aircraft, would have a flying life greater than 10,000 hours.
The aircraft would be big enough to transport Pratt & Whitney jet engines for the F-35 joint strike fighter.
With an unrefueled range of 2,400 nautical miles carrying a 10,000-pound load, the C-3 would have twice the range of a new C-2, and triple the range of an Osprey.
Of the 91 S-3s in storage, 87 are useable. A number of spare General Electric TF-34 turbofan engines used by the S-3 also are in storage.
Lockheed has also proposed refurbishing S-3s for the Republic of Korea, which is seeking an anti-submarine aircraft. Those planes would not be rebuilt as in the C-3 proposal, but retain their original fuselages.

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