Northrop Grumman builds, tests very lightweight torpedo for US Navy

Northrop Grumman has successfully manufactured and tested the first industry-built very lightweight torpedo (VLWT) for the US Navy.

The prototype torpedo is based on the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory’s (PSU-ARL) design that was distributed to defense industrial manufacturers in 2016.

Northrop Grumman, which independently funded the research and development, will offer the design-for-affordability improvements to this VLWT as the company’s response for the navy’s Compact Rapid Attack Weapon (CRAW) program.

As explained, 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,” David Portner, lead torpedo program manager, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman, said.

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

“The nation needs advanced undersea warfare capabilities now more than ever,” Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman, pointed out.

“We are ready to support fielding the VLWT which will increase subsea lethality and enable innovative concepts of operations for multiple warfighting platforms.” 

Northrop Grumman’s manufacturing plan would span the country by building components in California, Utah, Minnesota, Colorado, West Virginia and Maryland.

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