THE US Navy has revealed it is extending its range of sub-killing torpedoes as part of a new underwater warfare strategy that will make American submarines even more lethal and stealthy.
The Office of Naval Research awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne a contract, worth $2.6 million, which aims to improve the engine of the US Mark 48 heavyweight torpedo, originally designed to sink deep-diving Soviet submarines and surface ships.
According to Bryan Clark, a former submarine officer and analyst with the Centre for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the idea behind extending the range of the torpedo is to keep valuable submarines away from potential targets by using aircrafts to target data.
He said: “Through third-party targeting, you can use it as a standoff weapon.
“If you can extend that range to 50 or more miles, you can attack submarines without your sub having to hold that target organically with its sensors.”
Mr Clark noted at those ranges, it is less likely the submarine could be located by firing a torpedo.
He went on: “If you have 30 torpedoes onboard, you may only have one or two targets within range of your sensors and weapons.”
The concept behind the extension is similar to the one adopted by the surface Navy.
An aircraft such as F-35 or E-25 detects a hostile track by relying on data to the surface ship, which then neutralise the hostile with a long-range missile, such as an SM-6.