Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Shiny Toys, cont.

Okay, this might actually be a really useful weapon - despite my previous post, it's worth pointing out that the Pentagon does spend some money wisely:
Lockheed Martin is to demonstrate high-altitude, stand-off delivery of a torpedo from a P-3C Orion under a 12-month, $3 million US Navy contract. The navy’s Mk54 lightweight torpedo will be fitted with the company’s LongShot wingkit for the High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapons Concept (HAAWC) project.

Currently P-3s have to descend to 500ft (150m) to release the Mk54. The LongShot range extension kit, which includes pop-out wings, GPS navigation and autopilot, will allow the torpedo to be launched at altitudes of around 20,000ft (6,000m), avoiding the need to descend, reducing fatigue on the airframe and increasing survivability.
This is what the torpedo-and-glide kit looks like when mated together (presumably, after it's been fired.)

Conceptually, it reminds me of the fantastically-successful JDAM - basically, a GPS refit for old iron bombs, letting the USAF use precision weapons far more readily, without the expense or unreliability of the older, laser-guided smart bombs of the First Gulf War era. If it turns out well, this will allow aircraft to fire off these torpedoes at a distance of possibly 30+ km away.

As for the intended victims, I'd imagine this is aimed at Chinese destroyers.

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