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Northrop Grumman has successfully manufactured and tested the first industry-built Very Lightweight Torpedo (VLWT) for the US Navy, the company announced in late May.

The prototype torpedo is based on the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory’s (PSU-ARL) design, distributed to industry in 2016. Northrop Grumman, which independently funded the research and development, will offer the design-for-affordability improvements to this VLWT as Northrop Grumman’s response for the Navy’s Compact Rapid Attack Weapon (CRAW) programme.

Today, Northrop Grumman is the only company in full-rate production of MK54 and MK48 torpedo nose arrays, having delivered 600+ MK54 and 70+ MK48 arrays to the USN. Applying its engineering and manufacturing expertise, Northrop Grumman improved upon the VLWT baseline design to replace high-cost components and drive overall affordability, reproducibility and reliability. Those altered sections were built and tested using PSU-ARL’s own test equipment for confidence.

“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,” stated David Portner, Lead Torpedo Program Manager, Undersea Systems at Northrop Grumman.

Northrop Grumman assembled the prototype VLWT using a Stored Chemical Energy Propulsion System (SCEPS) manufactured by teammate Barber-Nichols, Inc., (BNI) of Denver, Colorado.

The nation needs advanced undersea warfare capabilities now more than ever," commented Alan Lytle, VP 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.” 

The Very Lightweight Torpedo prototype being prepared next to its Acoustic Test Facility tank in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo: Northrop Grumman)

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