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MK-50 Torpedo

Advanced Lightweight Torpedo (ALWT)


The Mk-50 is an advanced lightweight torpedo for use against the faster, deeper-diving and more sophisticated submarines. The Mk-50 can be launched from all ASW aircraft, and from torpedo tubes aboard surface combatant ships.

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Background and Features:

The Mk-50 torpedo was developed as the next generation lightweight torpedo to gradually replace the existing Mk-46 torpedo as the Navy's primary ASW weapon for aircraft (fixed wing and helicopters) and surface ships. It was intended to produce a significantly improved capability against some nuclear submarines. It has since been modified by Block Upgrade I. The Mk-50 torpedo with Block Upgrade I is intended to be a contributor to precision engagement as well as full-dimensional protection. It provides the Task Force commander with an air or surface ship launched anti-submarine weapon for force protection. The Mk-50 torpedo is intended to be an enabler when used to clear hostile waters of submarines, allowing amphibious forces freedom of operation. Tactically, since it is a "fire and forget" weapon, it allows the launch platform to maneuver freely following attack.

The torpedo is slightly over 111 inches long, with a diameter of 12.75 inches and weight of about 775 lbs. A sonar transducer is mounted in the torpedo nose. Torpedo operation is defined by the software associated with the Command and Control Section (CCS). The torpedo uses a closed cycle chemical reaction propulsion system. The Mk-50 system includes the torpedo, ancillary support equipment, workshop test and handling equipment, and logistics support facilities. Warshot and exercise versions of the torpedo are intended to be deployed from land based patrol aircraft (P-3), ASW carrier-based aircraft (S-3), ASW helicopters (SH-2, SH-3, SH-60) and ASW surface vessel torpedo tubes.

The Mk-50 program was initiated in 1974 with early operational testing [OT] conducted between 1986 and 1989. OPEVAL began in 1990 and continued into 1991. Following a hiatus to correct a problem discovered in early OPEVAL, IOT&E resumed in 1992. A torpedo software program was begun in 1992 to address deficiencies observed in OPEVAL. In FY97 exercise firings, the Mk-50 torpedo performed well.

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General Characteristics - Mk-50 Torpedo
Primary FunctionAir and ship-launched lightweight torpedo
ContractorAlliant Techsystems
Northrup Grumman (Westinghouse)
Raytheon Electronic Systems
Power PlantStored Chemical Energy Propulsion System
Length112 inches
Weight750 pounds
Diameter12.75 inches
Range -
Depth1,900 feet+ (579 meters)
Speed40+ knots
Guidance SystemAKY-14 programmable digital computer with active sonar and passive accoustical homing
Warhead100 pounds high explosive (shaped charge)
Unit Cost$2.9 million

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