For­mi­da­ble Weapons of the Sub­marines

Sub­marines also lay mines clan­des­tinely in en­emy har­bours Ôas wait and strikeÕweapons

SP's NavalForces - - FRONT PAGE - Rear Ad­mi­ral Dr S. Kulshrestha (Retd)

Sub­marines also lay mines clan­des­tinely in en­emy har­bours ‘as wait and strike’ weapons

AMOD­ERN CON­VEN­TIONAL SUB­MA­RINE has a for­mi­da­ble ar­ray of weapons at its dis­posal for deal­ing with the ad­ver­saries, be it a ship, another sub­ma­rine or a tar­get on land. Tor­pe­does are a choice when tar­get­ing sur­face ships and sub­marines in vicin­ity, and mis­siles when sur­face and land tar­gets are far away. Sub­marines also lay mines clan­des­tinely in en­emy har­bours Ôas wait and strikeÕweapons. Suc­ceed­ing para­graphs dis­cuss some of the more prom­i­nent sub­ma­rine weapons.

The Mk 48 and the Mk 48 ADCAP wire-guided tor­pe­does are the main un­der­wa­ter weapons of the US sub­marines. Gould/Honey­well and Hughes Air­craft man­u­fac­ture them re­spec­tively. This ther­mal tor­pedo has a range of 30 km at 65 kts (about 120 kmph) and 50 km at 40 kts (about 78 kmph). Self-guid­ance in ac­tive/ pas­sive acous­tic hom­ing mode is also fea­si­ble. The Royal Navy uses the Spearfish ther­mal tor­pedo by BAE Sys­tems. It has a range of 65 km at a speed of 60 kts (110 kmph). It is a wire-guided tor­pedo with an au­ton­o­mous ac­tive/pas­sive acous­tic hom­ing mode. The Swedish Tp-62 ( Tor­pedo 2000 ex­port ver­sion) is also a ther­mal tor­pedo with a pump jet propul­sor and a range of 50+km at a speed of 45+kts (about 83 kmph). It is also wire-guided with au­ton­o­mous acous­tic hom­ing; Saab Bo­fors Un­der­wa­ter Sys­tems are the man­u­fac­tur­ers. The Rus­sian 53-65KE is a wake homer us­ing kerosene and oxy­gen for propul­sion. It has speeds in ex­cess of 45 kts and a range of 50 km. White­head Sis­temi Subac­quei has de­vel­oped the Ital­ian A184, also known as Black­shark. It uses elec­tri­cal propul­sion; for guid­ance, op­ti­cal fi­bre as well as au­ton­o­mous ac­tive pas­sive acous­tic sonar is used. The Mod 3 has ad­vanced ECCM, bet­ter mo­tor de­sign and bat­tery giv­ing it a speed of 50+km at 50+kts. The Ger­man DM2A4See­hecht, man­u­fac­tured by At­las Eleck­tronik (SeaHake Mod 4, ex­port ver­sion), was the first tor­pedo to be fit­ted with a fi­bre op­tic wire guid­ance sys­tem. It is the only mod­u­lar de­sign tor­pedo of­fer­ing up to four sil­ver-zinc bat­tery mod­ules to achieve a range of 50+km and speeds of 50+kts. It has a unique hom­ing head us­ing trans­duc­ers in con­for­mal ar­ray per­mit­ting it to de­tect tar­gets in +/-100 de­gree in the hor­i­zon­tal plane and in +/-24 de­gree in the ver­ti­cal plane. It also claims the least self­noise among its com­peti­tors. In­dian Navy has reis­sued RFI for a heavy weight tor­pedo for its ships and Scor­pene sub­marines. In fu­ture, In­dian Navy is likely to also de­ploy the in­dige­nous Varunash­tra on its ships as and when it is avail­able.

BGM-109 Tom­a­hawk, man­u­fac­tured by Raytheon, is per­haps the most fa­mous and widely used sub­ma­rine fired mis­sile. The cur­rent ver­sion of this mod­u­lar mis­sile is equipped with net­work-cen­tric war­fare ca­pa­bil­i­ties and can utilise data from a va­ri­ety of in­puts like UAVs, satel­lites, ground forces, etc. Loi­ter­ing fea­ture en­ables re­tar­get­ing of its tac­ti­cal ver­sion. It can also be pre­pro­grammed to at­tack tar­gets as per GPS stored data. The lat­est land at­tack up­grade can hit har­dened tar­gets (in­clud­ing large ships) up to a range of 1,700 km. A sub­ma­rine uses its tor­pedo tubes to fire the MBDA pro­duced SM39 Ex­o­cet mis­sile. It is sea skimming turbojet mis­sile with a range of more than 180 km, GPS way­point guid­ance in ad­di­tion to in­er­tial and ac­tive radar, and has a war­head of 165 kg. In­dian Navy has or­dered it for the Scor­pene sub­marines un­der ac­qui­si­tion. The Klub-S is the Rus­sian anti-shipping mis­sile with a war­head of 200 kg and a range of 220 km. It is sub­sonic mis­sile with a su­per­sonic ter­mi­nal speed of 2.9 Mach. IDAS (In­ter­ac­tive At­tack and De­fence Sys­tem for Sub­marines) is a new sub­ma­rine tor­pedo tube fired mis­sile un­der de­vel­op­ment by HDW and Diehl BGT De­fence in Ger­many. It aims to tar­get he­li­copters, medium-sized ships, as well as coastal land tar­gets. The In­dian Naval sub­marines may also field a mix of in­dige­nous Shau­rya and Brah­Mos mis­siles, as and when they are ready for de­ploy­ment.

In the In­dian con­text, with the fresh RFI for heavy-weight tor­pe­does, the field is again thrown open for 98 tor­pe­does re­quired for sub­marines as well as un­spec­i­fied num­ber for war­ship Projects 15A & 15B. The In­dian Navy would in all prob­a­bil­ity also look at sub­ma­rine fired cruise mis­siles of smaller sizes than the Brah­Mos and tube-launched mines. The au­thor is for­mer DG NAI and Se­nior Fel­low at New West­min­ster Col­lege, Canada

BAE Sys­tems’ Spearfish Heavy­weight Tor­pedo

PHOTOGRAPHS: At­las Elek­tronik, BAE Sys­tems

At­las Elek­tronik’s SeaHake

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