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Northrop Grumman unveils new “very lightweight torpedo” for US Navy

Very lightweight torpedo prototype
Very lightweight torpedo prototype being prepared next to its acoustic test facility tank in Annapolis, Maryland. Photo: Northrop Grumman

Northrop Grumman has unveiled the first photo of the new very lightweight torpedo for the US Navy after the first system was manufactured and tested.

The prototype torpedo is based on the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory’s (PSU-ARL) design that was distributed to defense industrial manufacturers in 2016.

Northrop Grumman, which independently funded the research and development, will offer the design-for-affordability improvements to this VLWT as its response for the navy’s compact rapid attack weapon (CRAW) program.

The program leverages significant improvements in target location to reduce the required endurance of the torpedo, and thereby also its size, allowing the weapon to be carried on a broader range of future platforms.

According to an Office of Naval Research document, the lightweight anti-submarine torpedo will be capable of being deployed from the Fire Scout unmanned aerial vehicle.

Northrop Grumman says it assembled the prototype VLWT using a stored chemical energy propulsion system (SCEPS) manufactured by teammate Barber-Nichols, Inc., (BNI) of Denver, Colorado.

“The successful testing of the torpedo nose on the first try is a testament to Northrop Grumman’s design-for-affordability approach, which will significantly reduce cost without sacrificing operational performance,” said David Portner, lead torpedo program manager, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman.

“We are ready to support fielding the VLWT which will increase subsea lethality and enable innovative concepts of operations for multiple warfighting platforms,” Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman, added.