MK-54 Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo
While it has some significant performance deficiencies, the MK 50 is the best air-dropped torpedo in the U.S. Navy inventory, and possibly the best in the world. Unfortunately, quantities of the expensive MK 50 are limited. The Navy currently is developing a Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo (LHT) that combines MK 50 search and homing with a MK 46 propulsion system, in the name of cost-effectiveness.
The Lightweight Hybrid Torpedo, MK-54, to be introduced in FY 2003, will further improve the lightweight torpedo inventory performance in shallow water. This program will utilize available components of the MK-46 and MK-50 in addition to extensive use of COTS electronic components.
The LHT, with better sonar and processing capability than the MK 46, will still be handicapped by shortfalls in some characteristics. For this reason, the Navy's current plan to develop the LHT as a relatively cheap substitute for a MK 50 may not yield an operationally effective weapon in a war-fighting scenario without significant improvements in target locating ability and weapons placement accuracy.
The LHT program has been restructured. The restructure includes: shift of LHT IOC to FY03 vice FY01; shift in the testing program to FY99-FY02 from FY98-FY01, with continuation of the RDT&E E&MD contract to completion as originally planned; shift in LRIP to FY00/FY01, vice FY99/FY00; and shift in full rate production to FY02 vice FY01.
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