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HOME: NEWS: NEWS WIRE: MK 54 TORPEDO HEADED TOWARDS FULL P...
 

OCTOBER 16, 2004  
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  NEWS WIRES | OBSERVER | FEATURE STORIES

MK 54 Torpedo headed Towards Full Production

By Diane Jennings, NAVSEA Warfare Center, Keyport Public Affairs




KEYPORT, Wash.--The future has arrived for the Navy's newest Lightweight Torpedo. A concept in the early 1990's, the MK 54 has been called the "Lightweight Torpedo of the 21st Century," by its developers. The team that collaborated to design, develop, and test the MK 54 Torpedo includes many members from NAVSEA Warfare Centers (NWC) Keyport and Newport, Raytheon, and the Torpedo Program Office (PMS404). "The MK 54 Torpedo is a highly capable, shallow-water, lightweight torpedo with proven in-water performance. It is cost effective and clearly a win-win for the Fleet!" says Capt. Vernon Hutton.
Starting with re-use of the MK 46 Torpedo propulsion system, engineers at NWC Newport and Raytheon worked together to design the best electronic systems into the MK 54 using proven torpedo subsystems from the MK 50 Lightweight Torpedo. Where advantageous, they also introduced commercial-off-the-shelf digital technologies into new electronics assemblies. Land-based performance testing by the warfare center and Raytheon coupled with weapons simulation testing at NUWC Newport's Weapons Analysis Facility, resulted in a very efficient development process, where the weapon's hardware design and tactical software could be extensively tested in simulated environments prior to use in live firings of exercise weapons on tracking ranges and in open ocean tests. The hard work of the design engineers paid off as the number of in-water runs required for MK 54 development, test, and evaluation was less than one-third the number of sea runs required for the MK 50 Torpedo during the same development phase. "The MK 54 designers at NWC Newport and Raytheon did a great job of optimizing the design and tactics to be included in each sea run before the exercise weapons were built by NWC Keyport," said Pete Greene, Keyport weapons systems engineer.

Further efficiency was gained through NWC Keyport's in-water test capabilities at the warfare centerís northwest USW ranges and the co-location of Raytheon's production facility with Keyport's maintenance and test facilities. Capitalizing on existing capabilities and years of experience supporting Lightweight Torpedoes, NWC Keyport employs the maintenance processes required to support MK 54 Torpedo production, in-service engineering, and logistics required for introduction of this new weapon system in the Fleet.

In July, Rear Adm David Architzel, Commander, Operational Test and Evaluation Force, found the MK 54 Torpedo suitable for Fleet use, concluding the test and evaluation process. In mid-August, PEO Subs Program Manager for Undersea Weapons (PMS 404), Capt. Vernon Hutton, announced that NWC Keyport is now a certified MK 54 Torpedo maintenance activity. Ten MK 54 Torpedoes required for initial operating capability (a production milestone) were delivered as ready for issue units on August 31, and are in the Fleet. Raytheon is currently in low rate initial production of the MK 54, with full rate production to begin in FY05.

The success of MK 54 development to date is the direct result of the effective teamwork between the dedicated professionals at the Keyport and Newport warfare centers and Raytheon. Future development plans for MK 54 include use as the payload for the Vertical Launch Anti-Submarine Rocket and periodic increases in capability through a Spiral Development program.