Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. has been awarded a contract for support of the Mk 48 heavyweight torpedo for the U.S. Navy. The deal, announced Wednesday by the Department of Defense, is valued at $17.9 million under cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee and cost-only contract for engineering and maintenance services. The Mk-48 is the standard heavyweight torpedo used by the US military, and is mounted primarily on submarines.
The Mk-48 is a huge 533mm torpedo (19 feet long, 3,500+ pounds) with advanced homing, wire guidance capabilities, and devastating consequences when its 300kg warhead hits a target. It is designed to kill both fast, deep-diving nuclear submarines and high performance surface ships, and is carried by US Navy and Royal Australian Navy submarines. The Mk 48 ADCAP has improved target acquisition range, reduced vulnerability to enemy countermeasures, reduced shipboard constraints such as warm-up and reactivation time, and enhanced effectiveness against surface ships. These torpedoes can operate with or without wire guidance, and can use active and/or passive homing, conducting multiple re-attacks if they miss the target.
The contract provides the commanders of the submarine forces of the Navy’s Atlantic and Pacific fleets with about 56,160 hours per year to operate the progressive depot-level repair facility and provide repairs for exercise of the torpedo to ensure it meets fleet readiness, training and tactical commitments. Work will be performed in Yorktown, Va., and is expected to be complete by September 2018. The Navy has obligated $859,537 to Northrop Grumman at the time of award from fiscal 2018 Navy operations and maintenance funding, which will expire at the end of the fiscal year.
The USA, Australia, Brazil, Canada, and the Netherlands are Mk-48 customers, and Turkey has requested them for its new U214 subs. The Mk-48 doesn’t lack for international competitors, though: Britain (Spearfish), France (F21), Germany (Sea Hake), Italy (Black Shark), and now South Korea (White Shark) all produce plausible alternatives for western submarines. Russia, India, Japan, and China also produce their own heavy torpedoes, but they wouldn’t compete with the Mk-48 because the submarines that carry them are local or Russian designs.