Torpedo modernization has been a 'long road,' Navy official says

By Abby Shepherd / April 12, 2024 at 12:55 PM

NATIONAL HARBOR, MD -- The Navy is consistently delivering heavyweight torpedoes despite there being a "long road" to reach that point, a Navy official told an industry audience at Monday's Sea Air Space conference.

When production lines for the MK 48 Mod 7 stopped in 1996 and began again years later, tackling aged software and hardware was a challenge, said Capt. Christopher Polk, program manager of the Navy’s Undersea Weapons Program Office.

“Everything evolves, everything goes forward, and we were somewhat looking backwards before we can bring it forward in those cases,” Polk said. “So, developing that workforce also meant adding the right type of people that you needed to make the processes go along faster. We've right sized that workforce and attacked obsolescence.”

Over 1,000 changes have been made to the torpedo’s technical data package, Polk added.

“You can imagine some people who made resistors back in ‘96 don't make them today, or it looks like it's the same resistor, but it doesn't operate the same way,” he said. “So, we're constantly going after obsolescence, looking at redesign efforts in order to modernize the Mod 7 torpedo as we try to bring on the next generation of torpedoes which is the Mod 8.”

Capt. David Vehon, senior program manager of the Submarine Combat and Weapons Control Program Office, added that a major step in the modernization process is to decouple hardware from software.

“We need to be able to do a modernization, get our hardware in there that’s going to last us multiple years,” he said. “It can be upgraded with multiple versions of software over the years.”