South Korea moves ahead with Viking procurement plan

8:20:00 PM
SEOUL, -- The Republic of Korea Navy (RoKN) is to procure refurbished Lockheed Martin S-3 Viking anti-submarine warfare (ASW) aircraft, national media reported on 6 September.

The service has approved the acquisition of an initial 12 of the mothballed US Navy (USN) platforms, and may acquire eight more units as it looks to augment its current 16 Lockheed P-3 Orion platforms following the retirement of the Grumman S-2 Tracker, according to the Yonhap news agency.

The news that South Korea is to push ahead with the procurement of the former USN Vikings comes two years after IHS Jane's first reported the proposed sale at the Seoul International Aerospace and Defence Exhibition (ADEX) in October 2013.

At the time, a Lockheed Martin official had said that between 50 and 100 Viking airframes were stored at 'the boneyard' at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona. These, the official said, still have a lot of life left in them as both ASW and maritime patrol aircraft (MPAs). As part of any refurbishment process, the aircraft would be equipped with sonobuoys and acoustic detection systems, although the official was unable to say if they'd also be fitted with torpedos, and/or a magnetic anomaly detector. While the mission system has yet to be decided, Lockheed Martin confirmed to IHS Jane's that it would be developed and installed by the company.

According to Yonhap, the Viking plan will now be sent to the Defense Acquisition Program Administration for further assessment before it is approved by the National Defense System committee, which can give the final go-ahead.

The VX-30's S-3B on the flightline at NAS Jacksonville painted with a 1940's paint scheme to celebrate the Centennial of Naval Aviation.

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