Navy looks to VersaLogic to provide PC/104 embedded computer for lightweight torpedo prototype

NEWPORT, R.I., 16 May 2012. U.S. Navy underwater weapons experts needed a PC/104-based stackable embedded computer for a prototype torpedo designed by experts at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, R.I. They found their solution from VersaLogic Corp. in Eugene, Ore.

NUWC torpedo designers announced their intention Wednesday to award a sole-source, firm-fixed-price contract to VersaLogic for a PC/104 stack computer to provide guidance, weapons and power control, and data collection for a NUWC prototype torpedo.

Although the specific torpedo prototype has not been mentioned, NUWC designed the NUWC Light prototype lightweight torpedo to investigate different design factors in future lightweight torpedoes such as the Navy's current Mk 54 lightweight torpedo.

The amount of the upcoming NUWC contract to VersaLogic for the PC/104 stackable computer has yet to be negotiated. VersaLogic is the only company that can provide this kind of military embedded systems support because most of the components in this particularly PC/104 stack computer are proprietary to VersaLogic, Navy officials say.

This kind of stackable PC/104 embedded computer already are in use for prototype torpedoes, and Navy officials say it is imperative that their engineers use the exact systems to maintain continuity in torpedo testing.

The Navy's transition in recent years from an emphasis on open-ocean warfare against a perceived threat from the then-Soviet Union, to shallow-water littoral operations in coastal waters and harbors has ramped-up research on the most appropriate torpedoes for shallow-water operations.

The Mk 54, built by the Seapower Capability Systems segment of the Raytheon Co. Integrated Defense Systems in Portsmouth, R.I., was co-developed by Raytheon and the Navy in the 1990s to compensate for weaknesses perceived in the Navy's Mk 50 and Mk 46 lightweight torpedoes.

The Mk 50 was considered to be too expensive to use against submarines other than the top-of-the-line Soviet fast attack submarines of the day, while the Mk 46 did not perform as well in shallow-water littoral areas as it did in the open ocean, for which it was designed.

Raytheon and Navy experts agreed the newer Mk 54 lightweight torpedo should combine the Mk 50's homing capability and warhead with the Mk 46 propulsion system. Lightweight torpedoes typically are launched from surface ships and aircraft, while their heavyweight cousins, like the Mk 48 torpedo, are for launch from submarines.

PC/104 embedded computers stack one on top of the other, rather than plug into conventional backplanes, and so are suitable for use in the tubular shape of a prototype torpedo system.

For more information contact VersaLogic Corp. online at www.versalogic.com, or the Naval Undersea Warfare Center at www.navsea.navy.mil/nuwc.

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