Northrop Grumman manufactures prototype torpedo for US Navy

22 May 2020 (Last Updated May 22nd, 2020 12:20)

Northrop Grumman has manufactured and tested the very lightweight torpedo (VLWT) for the US Navy.

Northrop Grumman manufactures prototype torpedo for US Navy
MK-54 torpedo being launched from an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer. Credit: US Navy.

Northrop Grumman has manufactured and tested the very lightweight torpedo (VLWT) for the US Navy.

In 2016, a Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory (PSU-ARL) design of the torpedo prototype was distributed to defence industrial manufacturers.

Under the US Navy’s Compact Rapid Attack Weapon programme, Northrop Grumman funded the research and development of the VLWT.

The prototype was prepared next to the company’s Acoustic Test Facility tank in Annapolis, Maryland.

Northrop Grumman is currently the sole company in full-rate production of the MK54 and MK48 torpedo nose arrays. It has successfully delivered over 600 MK54 arrays and 70 MK48 arrays to the US Navy.

The improved VLWT baseline design will replace the expensive components, making the torpedo more affordable and reliable.

The replaced sections of the weapon were built and tested using PSU-ARL’s test equipment.

Northrop Grumman undersea systems lead torpedo programme manager David Portner said: “The successful testing of the torpedo nose on the first try is a testament to Northrop Grumman’s design-for-affordability approach, which will significantly reduce cost without sacrificing operational performance.”

The VLWT prototype has been assembled using a Stored Chemical Energy Propulsion System (SCEPS), which was manufactured by Barber-Nichols (BNI) of Denver, Colorado.

Northrop Grumman undersea systems vice-president Alan Lytle said: “The nation needs advanced undersea warfare capabilities now more than ever.

“We are ready to support fielding the VLWT which will increase subsea lethality and enable innovative concepts of operations for multiple warfighting platforms.”

Last month, Northrop Grumman won a contract from the US Navy for Lot Nine Full-Rate Production (FRP) of the AGM-88E advanced anti-radiation guided missile (AARGM).