BAE Systems has successfully completed the first in-water trial of the next-generation Spearfish heavyweight torpedo prototype at the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) British Underwater Test and Evaluation Centre, Scotland.

The trial was conducted as part of a five-year programme aimed to develop an upgrade to the Spearfish Mod-0 heavyweight torpedo.

BAE Systems Products & Training Services director Les Gregory said: "This is an important step in demonstrating the enhanced capability of the Spearfish Mod-1 heavyweight torpedo, as well as generating the necessary performance data, which will inform the rest of the programme.

"The success of this trial is testament to the knowledge and experience we have gained over more than 35 years of torpedo development."

Designed and built by BAE, the Spearfish torpedo is currently in service with the UK Royal Navy on the Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute-class submarines.

The upgrade is aimed to extend the life of the torpedo and enhance safety through the introduction of an ‘insensitive munitions’ warhead along with a single fuel system.

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With the upgrade, the next-generation Spearfish will feature enhanced data links between the weapon system and the launching vessel, offering better capability, as well as a reduction in through-life operating costs for the Royal Navy.

Capable of operating autonomously from the time of launch, they can also operate at variable speeds and it will be able to achieve high sprint speed in the terminal stage of an attack with the support of a high-power engine.

The latest trial saw the launch of a prototype weapon from a chute frame that demonstrated control in a range of manoeuvres and explored the performance of newly introduced capabilities.

"This is an important step in demonstrating the enhanced capability of the Spearfish Mod-1 heavyweight torpedo."

The submarine-launched trials of the prototype are scheduled to commence next year.

Completion of this demonstration phase will allow BAE Systems to upgrade existing Mod-0 heavyweight torpedoes to the new Mod-1 design.

BAE secured a £270m contract by the UK MoD in December last year to upgrade the UK Royal Navy’s Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.

The initial deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2020 and run through to 2024.

Image: The latest trial saw the launch of a Spearfish Torpedo prototype from a chute frame that demonstrated control in a range of manoeuvres. Photo: courtesy of BAE Systems.