Royal Navy’s HMS Audacious test fires upgraded Spearfish torpedo
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Royal Navy’s HMS Audacious test fires upgraded Spearfish torpedo

13 May 2021 (Last Updated May 13th, 2021 11:44)

The Royal Navy’s upgraded version of Spearfish torpedo has been declared ready for front-line operations with the service.

Royal Navy’s HMS Audacious test fires upgraded Spearfish torpedo
Crew on-board HMS Audacious during firing trial. Credit: Royal Navy.

The British Royal Navy’s Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine, HMS Audacious, has conducted trials of the upgraded version of Spearfish torpedo in the Bahamas.

The torpedo was put through extensive deep-water trials and was declared ready for front-line operations.

HMS Audacious successfully fired five of the advanced heavy torpedoes during a three-day of trial at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre (AUTEC) on Andros Island.

AUTEC is the ‘principal proving ground of sub-surface warfare on the world’s oceans’.

According to the UK Navy, the firings examined the weapon’s performance at its maximum operating depth.

The recent firings challenged the ‘torpedo’s homing abilities through the introduction of countermeasures’.

Carried by the Royal Navy’s Astute, Vanguard and Trafalgar Class submarines, Spearfish torpedoes use sonar to home in on targets.

These torpedoes can target both underwater and surface threats.

Also known as the Mod-1, the upgraded Spearfish features a new warhead, safer fuel system, a smarter electronic ‘brain’ and a ‘fibre-optic guidance link with its parent submarine to improve its accuracy and lethality’.

UK Navy Submarines programme and deputy director commodore Bob Anstey said: “I am delighted to be able to formally declare that the Spearfish programme’s Mod-1 Spearfish torpedo has reached initial operating capability (IOC); the culmination of a great effort from across the whole Spearfish Team, including our partners across industry.

“Whilst we remain focused on the ultimate aim of providing the full Spearfish Mod-1 operational capability, the team should be congratulated on achieving this important milestone; a critical step in the process of maintaining the effectiveness of the Royal Navy’s submarine-launched heavyweight torpedo for years to come.”

Work on transforming the existing Spearfish into the improved Mod-1 version can start now for entry into operational service with all Royal Navy submarines by 2025.

Despite the declaration of IOC, crucial data is still to be gathered on the torpedo’s performance in a range of environments.

In February, the Royal Navy’s Trafalgar-class attack submarine, HMS Talent, conducted trials of the upgraded version of Spearfish torpedo off the west coast of Scotland.