Northrop Grumman, in a recent post on social media, presented the prototype of the new very light torpedo (VLWT) for the US Navy.
The prototype torpedo is based on the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory’s (PSU-ARL) design that was distributed to defence industrial manufacturers in 2016.
According to Northrop Grumman (which independently funded the research and development), the company together with its partners will offer the design-for-affordability improvements to this VLWT, as Northrop Grumman’s response to the Navy’s Compact Rapid Attack Weapon (CRAW) program.
This torpedo is reported to be the first man-portable torpedo built by Northrop Grumman and smarter than any other torpedo ever produced. If it is placed in the same water as the target, the VLWT will search, detect and engage with more maneuverability and anti-torpedo capability than its larger counterparts.
Also read: Hellenic Navy | Anti-torpedo countermeasures for submarines
Its small size (it can fit into the six-inch launcher devices) effectively adds magazine depth to a submarine allowing it to defend itself efficiently from a single threat to an entire swarm. Even though not all the details about the technical characteristics of the torpedo have been officially announced, information speaks of a torpedo length of about 85 inches (216 cm) and a weight of around 100 kg! Additionally, its size allows it to be deployed from airplanes or even from a helicopter.
“Operators will be able to instantly load software into the weapon, giving it defensive or offensive capabilities shortly before being fired,” said Dave Allan, director of business development at Northrop Grumman Mission Systems.
The compact rapid attack weapon (CRAW) is the offensive version of the torpedo and the countermeasure anti-torpedo (CAT) is the defensive version.
“The only difference fundamentally between the defensive capability of the very lightweight torpedo, which is CAT and the offensive capability, which is CRAW, is the software that gets loaded onto the weapon at time of launch,” Allan said.
The transition design period will take about three years meaning production could begin around 2024, said David Portner, program manager for the very lightweight torpedo at Northrop Grumman.
Also read: “GHOST” | The revolutionary boat that remained unexploited – VIDEO
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