The S-3B Viking is an all weather, carrier-based jet aircraft, providing protection against hostile surface combatants while also functioning as the Carrier Battle Groups' 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 (SAR).
Derived from the S-3A and formerly configured for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW), the S-3B of the 1990s has evolved into a premier surveillance and precision-targeting platform for the Navy along with modern precision-guided missile capabilities. On March 25, 2003, an S-3B from the "Red Griffins" of Sea Control Squadron Thirty-eight (VS 38) became the first such aircraft to attack inland and to fire a laser-guided Maverick missile in combat. The attack was made on "significant naval target" in the Tigris River near Basra, Iraq. VS-38 was embarked in USS Constellation (CV 64).
The S-3B's high-speed computer system processes and displays information generated by its targeting-sensor systems. These systems include; Inverse/Synthetic Aperture Radar (ISAR/SAR), infrared (IR) sensor and an Electronic Support (ESM) system. To engage and destroy targets, the S-3B Viking employs an impressive array of airborne weaponry including the AGM 84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Missile, AGM 65 Maverick IR missile and a wide selection of conventional bombs and torpedoes. Future Viking aircraft will also have a control capability for the AGM 84 Standoff Land Attack Missile Extended Range (SLAM-ER) missile. The S-3B provides the fleet with a very effective fixed wing, "over the horizon" aircraft to combat the significant and varied threats presented by modern maritime combatants.