Lockheed Martin to maintain and upgrade Navy MK 48 sonar-equipped submarine-launched heavyweight torpedo

March 9, 2023
The MK 48 torpedo is standard armament for the Navy's fleet of fast attack submarines and Ohio-class ballistic- and cruise-missile submarines.

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy submarine warfare experts are asking Lockheed Martin Corp. to build and repair components for the MK 48 heavyweight torpedo under terms of a potential $91.9 million contract announced in February.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, are asking the Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems segment in Liverpool, N.Y., for engineering and maintenance for the MK 48 heavyweight torpedo at the Intermediate Maintenance Activity in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

The MK 48 torpedo is standard armament for the Navy's fleet of Los Angeles-, Virginia-, and Seawolf-class fast attack submarines, as well as Ohio-class ballistic- and cruise-missile submarines. The torpedo also is for Australian Collins-class attack submarines, and Taiwanese submarines of unknown class.

The MK 48 torpedo is 19 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighs 3,500 pounds. It can be used as deep as 1,200 feet at distances as far as five miles. The torpedo can travel as fast as 28 knots and has a 650-pound high-explosive warhead.

Related: Navy asks SAIC for critical components for Navy MK 48 CBASS broadband sonar-equipped submarine torpedo

The much-upgraded MK 48 torpedo has been in service since 1972, and is the U.S. Navy's primary submarine weapon for use against enemy submarines and surface ships.

The MK 48 and its improved Advanced Capability (ADCAP) torpedoes can be guided from a submarine by wires attached to the torpedo. They also can use their own active pinging sonar or passive listening sonar to carry out programmed target search, acquisition, and attack procedures.

The torpedo is designed to detonate under the keel of a surface ship to break the keel and sink the ship quickly. After a miss, the torpedo can circle back for another attempt at hitting its target. The torpedo's seeker has an active electronically steered 2D phased array active sonar.

Related: Navy asks Lockheed Martin to continue upgrading Mark 48 torpedo guidance and sonar for lethal performance

The latest version of the MK 48 is the MK 48 Mod 7 Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System (CBASS) with expanded operational capabilities for shallow waters along coastlines and inside harbors, as well as in the deep-water open ocean.

The CBASS broadband sonar enhancement makes the torpedo more effective against new enemy submarines in harsh acoustic environments. It uses modern commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) technologies in an open-architecture computing environment, and can be improved with regular hardware and software upgrades.

The MK 48 Mod 7 CBASS kit’s evolutionary design and modular nature makes the upgrade of older version MK 48 torpedoes to the Mod 7 CBASS capability a relatively straightforward effort without requiring significant torpedo redesign and certification.

Related: Raytheon to provide parts kits to upgrade signal processing and sonar for Navy MK 54 lightweight torpedo

The CBASS torpedo also has the ability of multiband operation with active and passive homing; advanced counter-countermeasure capabilities; effectiveness against low-Doppler shallow submarines, fast deep diving submarines, and high-performance surface ships; autonomous fire-and-forget operation or wire-guide capability to enable post-launch monitoring and updates via the submarine combat system; and running Otto Fuel II as the propellant.

The MK 48 Mod 7 CBASS provides the ability to transmit and receive over a wide frequency band and use broadband signal processing techniques to improve the torpedo’s search, acquisition, and attack effectiveness.

This contract to Lockheed Martin is worth $16.9 million. If the Navy exercises all options, the value of the contract could rise to $91.9 million.

On this contract Lockheed Martin will do the work in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and should be finished by February 2024. For more information contact Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems online at Paste link here, or Naval Sea Systems Command at www.navsea.navy.mil.

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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