Northrop Grumman has secured a contract from the US Navy for the production of the MK 48 heavyweight torpedo transducer array / nose shell assembly.

The $9.6m deal features an option to extend the award value to up to $40.5m, and will see Northrop Grumman initially produce 45 MK 48 torpedo transducer array / nose shell assemblies.

The three additional options will allow the company to produce a total of up to 180 systems over a period of five years.

Northrop Grumman will also provide spare parts and engineering support services as part of the agreement.

Northrop Grumman undersea systems business unit vice-president Alan Lytle said:  “Northrop Grumman has a long legacy of torpedo production and we are proud to partner with the US Navy to ensure the viability of the MK 48 torpedo for years to come.

“Between the new MK 48 contract and our existing production of the MK 54 torpedo arrays, we are honoured to provide the US Navy with affordable and reliable torpedo components and look forward to future opportunities for design and production of advanced, next-generation torpedoes for the fleet.”

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The MK 48 is said to be the primary offensive weapon deployed from all US Navy submarines, while the transducer array is the main sensor that is used to acoustically detect, locate and guide the torpedo to its intended target. 

"Northrop Grumman has a long legacy of torpedo production and we are proud to partner with the US Navy to ensure the viability of the MK 48 torpedo."

Work under the contract will be carried out at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Annapolis, Maryland, as well as Ultra Electronics Ocean Systems’ facility in Braintree, Massachusetts, and additional supplier locations.

Northrop will deliver the completed assemblies to the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport, Washington, for installation into complete MK 48 torpedoes.

The company operates advanced research centres on future undersea warfare technology.

It is currently performing research on multiple aspects of the very lightweight torpedo for missions in torpedo defence and offensive submarine warfare, and the development of an automated torpedo array assembly and test, in addition to advanced torpedo acoustic element and array design concepts for increased performance, reliability and lethality.

Image: To date, Northrop has produced more than 3,000 MK 48 torpedoes and nearly 500 MK 50 lightweight torpedoes. Photo: courtesy of the US Navy.