(Washington, D.C.) As Russian newspapers highlight a reported technological advance with torpedo targeting technology, some might certainly be curious about how possible innovations like these might compare with fast-evolving U.S. torpedo technology.
Russia’s TASS news agency says new “torpedo homing technology boosts the target detection range and the kill accuracy.”
"The electronic equipment for torpedo homing systems has successfully passed qualification trials. It can be used for sets of torpedoes of various caliber designated to strike underwater and surface targets. Specialists have increased the range of detecting the target and boosted the probability of hitting it," the press office quoted Tecmash Executive Director Alexander Kochkin as saying.
Russian announcements regarding Torpedo guidance technology raise interesting questions about the extent to which it may be intended to try to rival or outmatch what are very substantial U.S. heavyweight torpedo upgrades, improvements and new production.
U.S. Navy Mk 48 Torpedo Upgrades
For many years now, the U.S. Navy has been prototyping, building and manufacturing more lethal, high-tech heavyweight Mk 48 torpedoes with improved precision, guidance, range and propulsion mechanisms, Lockheed engineers told me earlier in the program’s evolution.
The new upgraded Mk 48, developers explained, not only included improved propulsion but also incorporates multiple kinds of warheads, the details of which are likely not available for security reasons. The newer innovations are intended to build upon Lockheed’s ongoing work upgrading Mk 48 Mod 6 and Mod 7 torpedoes. The modifications have included the addition of a new acoustic receiver, replaced guidance and control technology, increased memory and enhanced processor throughput intended to improve the weapon as new threats emerge. Navy and Lockheed developers have also explained that modifications to the Mk 48 also include adjustments to radiated noise signatures.
Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System
Upgrades to the guidance control section include the integration of a system called Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System, or CBASS – electronics to go into the nose of the weapon as part of the guidance section, a Lockheed engineer told earlier in the process The new technology involves adjustments to the electronic circuitry in order to make the acoustic signals that are received from the system that allow the torpedo to better operate in its undersea environment.
U.S. MK 48 Torpedo Specs
A Mk 48 torpedo is 21 inches in diameter and weighs 3,520 pounds; it can destroy targets at ranges out to five miles and travels at speeds greater than 28 knots. The weapon can operate at depths greater than 1,200 feet and fires a 650-pound high-explosive warhead. The Mk 48, which is a heavy weapon launched under the surface, is quite different from surface launched, lightweight Mk 54 torpedoes fired from helicopters, aircraft and surface ships. The Navy’s Mk 48 torpedo is also in service with Australia, Canada, Brazil and The Netherlands.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Master's Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.