Spearfish torpedo

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Spearfish
Type Heavyweight torpedo
Service history
In service 1992–present
Production history
Manufacturer BAE Systems Underwater Systems
Produced 1988–2003
Specifications
Weight 1,850 kg (4,075 lb)
Length 7 m (23 ft)
Diameter 533 mm (21 in)

Maximum firing range 54 km (30 nmi)[1]
Warhead Aluminised PBX explosive
Warhead weight 300 kg (660 lb)
Detonation
mechanism
Proximity or contact detonation

Engine Sundstrand gas-turbine with pump-jet
Propellant HAP / Otto fuel II
Speed 80 kn (150 km/h)[2]
Guidance
system
Wire-guided with autonomous active terminal homing sonar

The Spearfish torpedo (formally Naval Staff Target 7525) is the heavy torpedo used by the submarines of the Royal Navy. It can be guided by wire or by autonomous active or passive sonar, and provides both anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface ship warfare (ASuW) capability.

It replaces the unreliable Tigerfish torpedo, which was withdrawn in 2004; the significantly higher speed of the Spearfish, for which development started in the 1970s, before the breakup of the Soviet Union, was intended to catch high-speed, deep-diving Soviet threats such as the Alfa-class submarine.

Design[edit]

The torpedo is driven by a pump-jet coupled to a Hamilton Sundstrand 21TP04 gas turbine engine using Otto fuel II and hydroxyl ammonium perchlorate as oxidiser. The addition of an oxidiser improves the specific energy of the fuel by reducing the fuel-richness of the Otto fuel.[3]

A microprocessor enables the torpedo to make autonomous tactical decisions during the attack. It has a powerful blast warhead, triggered by either contact detonation (against a submarine hull) or an acoustic proximity fuze (for under-keel detonation against ships). A standoff detonation under the keel enhances blast effects against surface ships through the amplification of stress resulting from the interaction of the explosion's products and the flexible structure of the ship. This can be seen in SINKEX video footage.[4]

Guidance[edit]

In a typical engagement, Spearfish will run out wired-guided to the general vicinity of the target and then conduct a covert passive search. The high-capacity guide wire system, specifically design to match the Spearfish's manoeuvre and speed envelope, provides two-way data exchange between the torpedo and launch submarine, maximising the submarine's organic sensor and combat control capabilities.

Once at close range the Spearfish uses active sonar to classify and home in on its target. High power transmissions and sophisticated signal processing enable Spearfish to accurately discriminate targets from background noise and ensure high resistance to acoustic countermeasures and/or evasive manoeuvres.

Should Spearfish fail to hit the target on its first attack, it automatically selects an appropriate re-attack mode until it successfully concludes the engagement.

Testing[edit]

Tactical software has been extensively refined through real-time, hardware in the loop simulations and demonstrated in over 500 in-water trials and exercise firings.

Production[edit]

The production contract for the Spearfish Torpedo was placed with GEC-Marconi Underwater Systems Ltd (now BAE Systems) in 1983, following a development programme lasting for several years.

Deployment[edit]

Spearfish entered full production in 1988, with deliveries completed in 2003; the number ordered has not been revealed. Spearfish torpedoes are stored and serviced at Beith Ordnance Storage facility in North Ayrshire.

Upgrade[edit]

In 2009 an upgrade program began, leading to further sophisticated advances in Spearfish's homing, warheads, tactical and fuelling systems, as well an upgraded guidance link.[5][6]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

External links[edit]