The Office of Naval Research (ONR) is moving ahead with its Torpedo Advanced Propulsion System (TAPS) program as it awarded Aerojet Rocketdyne [AJRD] a $2.6 million Phase I contract to develop a prototype torpedo propulsion system, the company said Tuesday.
TAPS aims to improve the engine efficiency of the U.S. Navy’s Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo. According to a Navy fact
sheet, the torpedo reaches speeds upward of 28 knots with a range of over five miles and reaches depths of 1,200 feet. It has a 650 pound high-explosive warhead.
All U.S. submarine classes use the Mk 48 as their primary anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface warfare (ASuW) weapon. The latest version of the torpedo, advanced capability (ADCAP) MOD 7 version, has a Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System (CBASS) that is optimized for both deep and littoral waters and has advanced counter-countermeasures capabilities.
Phase I of TAPS may last up to 24 months if ONR enacts contract options. It will examine increasing the efficiency of the current Mk 48 Otto-fueled engine. If later awarded, Phase II of the program would then integrate full-scale system testing in an MK48 propulsion section.
Aerojet Rocketdyne has been developing torpedo propulsion systems since the 1950s. Company CEO and President Eileen Drake said, “We will carry this legacy forward as we develop the technologies needed to enhance the capability of the Mk 48.”
“Aerojet Rocketdyne is committed to serving the needs of the Navy’s undersea warfighters, and this project is a key part of our ongoing power and propulsion support. We intend to leverage our advanced technology and modern manufacturing techniques to enhance the efficiency of the MK48,” the company’s vice president of Rocket Shop Defense Advanced Programs, Tyler Evans, added.
Separately, Lockheed Martin [LMT] said it was awarded a Naval Sea Systems Command follow-on five-year contract for $65 million to continue supporting intermediate-level maintenance for the Mk 48 at the Pearl Harbor Heavyweight Torpedo Intermediate Maintenance Activity (IMA), Hawaii. The company has been providing this kind of maintenance since 2007.
Under the contract, Lockheed Martin provides infrastructure support for intermediate maintenance activities like quality assurance, training, audit support, pier side services and ordnance handling.
The Navy provides the facility, required parts and equipment, and procedures to perform the maintenance, but Lockheed Martin supplies qualified torpedo maintenance technicians. The technicians receive, inspect, induct, process, and issue the Mk 48s.
Since torpedoes are sometimes used multiple times for exercises and training, the company refurbishes those to keep adequate numbers ready for fleet commanders. Lockheed Martin performs the intermediate-level maintenance on both exercise and wartime-ready configurations of the torpedoes.
“Our teams have established a strong partnership that ensures availability and reliability of the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes, while reducing total program life cycle costs for the Navy's torpedo enterprise,” Richard Dunn, Lockheed’s program manager for the Mk 48 Torpedo IMA Program, said in a statement.