STINGRAY MLU is launched, and a vertical launch booster for use in MK41 cells is sought 10/07/2024 | Gabriele Molinelli

The MOD assigned a £60.1 million contract to BAE Systems for the Assessment Phase of the STINGRAY lightweight torpedo Mid-Life Upgrade, confirming that a new evolution of the existing weapon is the preferred solution to the requirement for a new ASW weapon that first emerged when pre-concept work was revealed to be underway in July 2019.

The procurement of a new lightweight torpedo solution was then confirmed with the Defence White Paper of 2021. The contract was awarded on June 28 and publicly notified on July 1st. This is a further vote of confidence in STINGRAY after the decision earlier to fund integration on P-8 POSEIDON, which was initially equipped with a stock of American MK54 torpedoes.

BAE has been working on a STINGRAY Mod 2 for some time: after REPMUS 2023 it noted that the Mod 2 was specifically looking at new and innovative deployment methods, including the launch from drones: at the REPMUS specifically, the torpedo was dropped by the T-600 electric-powered heavy lift drone created alongside Malloy Aeronautics (which was then acquired by BAE Systems). Another “method of delivery” being looked at has been indirectly revealed by a RFI published earlier in June by the Royal Navy.

The Senior Service is looking for a Future Long Range Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Weapon (LRAW) to be fired vertically from MK41 cells on surface warships. The RFI specifically calls for proposal for a quick-reaction, all-weather solution able to carry a “UK lightweight torpedo” on top of a target, with a range that must “comfortably overmatch those of current and forecast threat Heavy Weight Torpedoes”. The RFI specifies that only the booster / vector is wanted, and the torpedo should be excluded as it will be a UK solution. The RFI notes that a first opportunity to show proposals will be “at the Sea Air Space Conference (6-9 Apr 20255) in Virginia, USA.

While we don’t have news about it, yet, it would not be surprising to see the RAF and Royal Navy look at a wingkit solution to give P-8 POSEIDON an equivalent capability to the US High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) launch of winged MK54 from medium/high altitude. The existing Mod 1 STINGRAY, which was also selected by Norway, is an advanced weapon that introduced a completely new sonar system compared to the earlier Mod 0, an Insensitive Munition-compliant Warhead (in 2013, validated ahead of schedule), a new tactical and navigation system and a new sea water battery system.

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