Lockheed ES-3A Shadow

ES-3A Shadow The Lockheed Martin ES-3A Shadow was a development of the S-3B Viking, the US Navy’s carrier borne Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) aircraft, and formed part of all carrier air wings.

Powered like the S-3B by two TF-34-GE 2 engines, the ES-3A was a dedicated Electronic Surveillance (ESM) and SIGINT platform which replaced the EKA-3B ‘Electric Whale’. Externally the ES-3A could be easily distinguished from the S-3B by a prominent dorsal hump and a retractable radome.

Sixteen of these aircarft were split between 2 squadrons VQ-5 (‘Sea Shadows’) in the Pacific Fleet and VQ-6 (‘Ravens’) in the Atlantic Fleet. Detachments of two or three aircraft normally deployed with every carrier air group, providing ESM, SIGINT and OTH support for the CVBG.

However, in 1998 the US Navy realised that it could not afford to fund the upgrades need to keep the aircraft viable through to 2013. The two squadrons began retiring their aircraft to AMARC at Davis Monthan AFB Arizona in Jan 1999 and by May 1999 all the aircraft had been withdrawn from service.