High altitude launch capability demonstrated for MK-54 torpedos

High altitude launch capability demonstrated for MK-54 torpedos
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May 30, 2007 If there’s an absolute truth about military technology, it’s that it keeps getting more deadly with each passing year and the High Altitude ASW Weapons Concept (HAAWC) is a prime example. HAAWC employs the Lockheed Martin LongShot Wing Adapter Kit to allow the launch of torpedoes from high altitudes and long standoff ranges, allowing aircrews to remain beyond the reach of enemy air defences. Additionally, the manoeuvrability of the concept allows for off-axis launch of torpedoes at potential undersea targets preventing the need for the aircraft to manoeuvre.

The LongShot is a low-cost, self-contained wing adaptor kit that provides range extension and autonomous guidance to a family of existing air-to-surface munitions, including sea mines, gravity bombs, laser-guided bombs and tactical munitions dispensers. No aircraft modification is required to deploy a LongShot equipped munition. The system is completely self-contained, including a flight control computer, a GPS-based navigation system and power sources and does not require an electrical interface with the aircraft.

Lockheed Martin recently demonstrated its HAAWC from a P-3 aircraft at the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC) in the Bahamas. The MK-54 torpedo was launched from the internal weapons bay of the P-3 aircraft flying above 8,000 feet. After executing a turn at a pre-determined waypoint, the HAAWC-equipped torpedo navigated via GPS to its normal launch altitude close to the surface. Once at the desired release point, the LongShot wings self-jettisoned, allowing water entry of the Mk-54. The test torpedo was a fully functional MK-54 exercise torpedo, with an exercise section replacing the warhead.

"The significance of this capability to the Navy is that it will enable the crew to launch from high altitudes, enhancing the survivability of both the aircrew and aircraft by providing safe standoff," said Alan Jackson, director of the HAAWC program at Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control. "Without HAAWC, P-3s must descend to a low altitude to deliver the torpedo. The HAAWC concept improves the delivery accuracy and shortens the engagement time of the MK-54."

In addition, HAAWC will reduce stress on the Maritime Patrol aircraft by allowing it to stay at altitude to launch HAAWC-equipped torpedoes. This will assist in reducing fatigue on those aircraft currently in U.S. Navy service as well as future Navy aircraft.

The U.S. Navy awarded Lockheed Martin the US$3 million HAAWC contract in June 2006. The successful test leads to a U.S. Navy decision on proceeding with System Design and Development of the HAAWC system.

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