J C Menon
The U.S has approved the sale of 93 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT) to two European nations at a total cost of US$163.3m. While the State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to Germany of 64 MK 54 torpedoes, 10 MK 54 Conversion Kits and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$130m, neighbouring Belgium will get 29 of these LWTs and related equipment for about US$33.3m. The principal contractor for both the deals will be Raytheon Integrated Defence Systems, but there are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale.
Germany had requested to buy these units and conversion kits to be used with fleet exercise sections as MK 54 Exercise torpedoes. Also included are
- Torpedo containers
- Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers
- Fleet Exercise Section (FES)
- Fuel tanks to be used with MK 54 conversion kits (procured as MDE)
- Air launch accessories for fixed wing, and torpedo spare parts.
The proposed sale will improve Germany’s capability to meet current and future threats by upgrading the Anti-Submarine Warfare capabilities of Germany’s P-3C aircraft. A State Department official has said Germany will have no difficulty absorbing these weapons into its armed forces. Similarly, the deal with Belgium also include two Fleet Exercise Section conversion kits, torpedo support equipment, training, publications, technical, and logistics support services. The Belgian Navy is phasing out its inventory of MK 46 torpedoes and the MK 54 will give them the ability to engage submarines from its fleet of NH-90 helicopters and the new generation of Multi-Mission Frigates. Belgium will also have no difficulty absorbing this equipment into its armed forces, the official adds.
The MK 54 can be deployed from a surface ship, helicopter or fixed wing aircraft to track, classify and attack underwater targets, using sophisticated processing algorithms to analyse the information, edit out false targets or countermeasures and then pursue identified threats.
The MK 54 is the next-generation of the MK 46 torpedo, leveraging the most modern torpedo technologies from the MK 50 and MK 48 ADCAP (advanced capability) programmes, utilising the proven MK 46 warhead and propulsion subsystems, resulting in a low-cost weapon that meets all performance requirements for littoral warfare. Navies with MK 46 models in their inventory can easily convert them into MK 54 torpedoes using the low-cost MK 54 Upgrade Kit, which is easily installed in-country, replacing older components with state-of-the-art digital technology. Moreover, the MK 54 can be incorporated into any modern navy with minimum conversion costs because it is compatible with over 20 launch platforms.
The proposed contracts will not require the assignment of any additional U.S. Government or contractor representatives to these countries, though U.S Government Engineering and Technical Services may be required on an interim basis for installations and integration. There will be no adverse impact on U.S. defence readiness as a result of these proposed sales, the official says.