Sentinel Chicken

American 71 Heavy, contact departure 126.47
17 January 2006
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One proposed Lockheed S-3 Viking variant that never really progressed was an airborne early warning/AWACS variant of the S-3 that would have replaced the E-2 Hawkeyes on carrier decks. Models have been built and there's been manufacturer's artwork, but I've never come across anything more than just artists' impressions of the AWACS Viking.

The following illustrations are based on those proposals:




^The above three illustrations of US Navy Viking AWACS birds wear the markings of existing Grumman E-2 Hawkeye squadrons.

Unlike the circular rotodome of the E-2 Hawkeye, the Viking AWACS would have had a triangular radome with three phased-array radar antennae covering 120 degree sectors, the radar picture merged to give one picture to the radar operators. Notice the lack of ejection seat warning triangles- to save weight, I envision the ejection seats replaced with standard seats as are used on the E-2 Hawkeye. Crew would have been the two pilots up front with three radar operators in back- two in the existing aft crew stations and a third one behind them in the space vacated by the mid-fuselage avionics compartment. The ventral fuselage bulge is where the weapons bays used to be and are used now for fuel tanks.

The triangular radome is supported by two struts forward and the aft "point" of the triangle is attached to the leading edge of the vertical fin. This would necessitate a re-engineering of the fin fold to avoid the attachment point. Between the forward support struts would be the ram-air cooling inlet to keep the associated radar avoinics cool, similar to the prominent intakes on the top of the E-2 Hawkeye aft of the cockpit section. I imagine such a Viking variant would have kept the wingtip ESM pods as well as the majority of the S-3's antennae to provide a broad range of communications and self-protection options.


^Taiwan is a recent operator of the E-2 Hawkeye and this illustration is based on the markings/colors of an existing RoCAF Hawkeye unit.


^And of course, we can't forget the Royal Navy in our ongoing assumption that the CVA-01 program went forward and to this day, the RN still has big deck carriers.

This one wears the all-over medium gray that the Royal Navy repainted its Harrier force in the late 1980s. Markings are the distinctive bee-motif markings for No. 849 Squadron. During the 1960s when the Royal Navy had fixed wing aircraft carriers, No. 849 operated all the Gannet AEW aircraft and had them divided up into "Flights" that were assigned to carrier on deployment.


The US Customs Service has used two types of Orions in the interdiction/law enforcement role- Orions with the Hawkeye AEW radar (the only law enforcement AEW aircraft in use worldwide)- the P-3 AEWs nicknamed "Domes" are augmented by non AEW P-3s that are equipped with FLIR and the AN/APG-66 radar from the F-16- those Orions are called "Slicks". Based out of Corpus Christi, Texas, and Jacksonville, Florida, these specialized Orions patrol the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean for drug runners and other nefarious threats that since more and more military assets are having to be deployed overseas, have grown in importance.

The parent organization, the AMO (Air and Marine Operations) had been under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Treasury until the transfer in 2003 to the Department of Homeland Security. Amidst a multitude of shuffling of the Washington bureaucracy since September 11, the Orions of the US Customs Service have also been shuffled with the department from ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to CBP (Customs and Border Patrol). I'm sure there'll be another shuffle yet as there have been some misgivings within the US Customs AMO about being seconded to Border Patrol as air assets have been to some inappropriately assigned to Border Patrol duties as opposed to drug interdiction duties.

Whatever the case, the above illustration depicts the Viking AWACS in US Customs colors. Sharp look with the cheatline!
Oh looking nice there JP (kinda familiar ;) )

I think it was intended for use on the lighter CVV and the later SCS ships where Vikings would replace the various Tracker types


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