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April 14, 2011
Torpedo project strikes success
By John Wieczorek
THE introduction of new fibre-
optic-guided weaponry systems to
Australia's Fleet is a step closer
following successful testing.
The RAN has been working in
partnership with the US Navy since
the signing of a Memorandum of
Understanding in 2003 to develop the
MK48 Heavyweight Torpedo (HWT)
as an interoperable weapon to satisfy
the requirements of both navies.
Last year, HMAS Waller fired two
developmental fibre-optic exercise tor-
pedoes against HMAS Arunta during
a sea demonstration at the Underwater
Tracking Range off Western Australia.
CMDR Rodney Horsburgh, Deputy
Project Manager at the Common
Broadband Advanced Sonar System
(CBASS) Joint Project Office (JPO),
said the trials had accomplished all
the objectives of the Improved MK48
Guidance Wire Connectivity Project.
"In recent years, several improve-
ments to the current system and alter-
native wire-guide methodologies have
been proposed to reflect new require-
ments arising from the changing sub-
marine force operating environment,
technological advancements and a
desire to drive down life-cycle costs,"
CMDR Horsburgh said.
The current HWT guidance system
uses a flex hose and a copper-cadmi-
um wire in maintaining connectivity
between the fire control system and
the weapon. It entered operations with
the MK48 MOD 3 torpedo in the early
The Applied Research
Laboratory of Penn
State University used its
expertise in the develop-
ment of weapon systems
and application of fibre-
optic technologies to desig
and construct the new system.
A 'capability demonstrator' for
the new fibre-optic torpedo guidance
system provides improved launching
capability in shallow water, thanks to
increased wire survivability in littoral
Improved ship-torpedo connectivity
through greater communication band-
width is expected to enable a range of
combat systems/HWT synergies and
"Despite the current economic
environment, members of the JPO
team are optimistic that the accom-
plishments of this project, together
with the earlier and ongoing work
by our US colleagues, will provide a
compelling argument for further devel-
opment of this concept, and will result
in the ultimate introduction of fibre-
optic guidance into service," CMDR
"The execution of this project
involved many individuals, organisa-
tions and resources at several locations
around the world.
"The fact that it came to fruition
with a very positive outcome high-
lights the benefits, to all stakehold-
ers, of forming armaments cooperative
projects, such as the CBASS JPO."
The JPO provided oversight to
the Improved MK48 Guidance Wire
Connectivity Project, funded by the
government under the SEA1429
Heavyweight Torpedo Project.
CBASS JPO members are embed-
ded with the Undersea Weapons
Program Office in Washington DC,
and at the Naval Undersea Warfare
Centre on Rhode Island.
READY TO FIRE:
A new torpedo is
loaded onto HMAS
Waller last year
while, right, mem-
bers of CBASS JPO
pose on the gang-
way of USS Toledo.
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