The US Navy 5th Fleet’s MK 54 lightweight torpedos have been successfully upgraded with the latest software on time and within budget.

The war-shot ready block upgrade was developed to bridge a potential capability gap under a 5th Fleet Urgent Operational Needs (UON) statement.

Undersea Weapons programme manager captain, Tom Kearney, said: "Only 15 months after receiving the demand signal, we modified hardware, produced software, tested on land and in the water, made sure it worked as intended and did not have any glitches, and then got it out to the Fleet and loaded on currently-deployed weapons."

The MK 54 is a hybrid surface-ship and air-launched anti-submarine weapon featuring a MK 50 lightweight torpedo’s sonar section, MK 46 lightweight torpedo’s propulsion system and an explosive train.

The torpedo, an upgrade of the MK 46 torpedo, has been designed to replace the MK 46 and MK 50 torpedoes in the near future. It attained its Initial Operational Capability in 2004.

The system also features design guidance and control system with shallow water capabilities and can be deployed from a surface ship, helicopter or fixed-wing aircraft to locate, identify and destroy underwater targets.

Co-developed by Raytheon and the US Navy, the MK 54 can be launched using Mark 32 surface vessel torpedo tubes or the vertical launch anti-submarine rocket (ASROC) systems, as well as from ASW aircraft.

The 324mm antisubmarine warfare torpedo with commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) technology is also being used by the Royal Australian Navy.

The MK 54 software upgrade effort received support from the Undersea Weapons Program Office, Naval Undersea Warfare Divisions Keyport and Newport, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations’ Surface and Naval Sea Systems Command Undersea Warfare Directorates, Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation, Fleet Forces Command, among others.