A prototype of the UK Royal Navy’s next-generation Spearfish heavyweight torpedo has successfully completed a first in-water trial at the BUTEC range on the west coast of Scotland.
The trial is part of a five-year, £270 million Demonstration and Full Manufacture contract awarded in December 2014 that will see BAE Systems upgrade current Spearfish Mod 0 weapon stocks to the improved Mod 1 standard.
Spearfish Mod 0 is in service on the Trafalgar, Vanguard and Astute class submarines. The Mod 1 upgrade will address the need for incremental improvements in safety, remove obsolescence, enable through-life cost reduction, and extend its life to beyond 2050.
Upgrades being embodied in the Spearfish Mod 1 weapon include the introduction of a fully digital weapon architecture (both hardware and software), replacement of the current copper/cadmium wire-guidance link with a ruggedised fibre-optic system (reducing the data latency between the platform and the weapon), and the replacement of the existing warhead with an Insensitive Munition compliant warhead.
The BUTEC trial included the launch of a prototype weapon from a chute frame that demonstrated control in a range of manoeuvres and explored the performance of newly introduced capabilities.
Submarine-launched trials are planned to start next year.
Initial deliveries of Spearfish Mod 1 are scheduled to start in 2020, with the remanufacture programme continuing through to 2024.