(Published SP’s Naval Forces, June –July 2014)
The armament carried today by maritime aircraft and helicopters includes, depth charges, bombs, lightweight torpedoes, and anti ship cruise missiles.
Air Dropped Depth Charges and Bombs. British Aerospace (BAE Systems) had developed the Mk 11 depth charge for air delivery from maritime aircraft and helicopters. The design of Mk 11 depth charge caters specifically for shallow water operations against submarines on the surface or at periscope depths. It is fully compatible for carriage and release from a wide range of ASW helicopters and fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft. Bofors Underwater Systems (now Saab Dynamics) developed the BDC 204 depth charge for air delivery from maritime aircraft and helicopters of the Swedish Navy. Four different weight categories and with different sinking speeds ranging between 5.2 and 6.8 m/s are available to cover a wide range of applications.
Two air dropped bomb upgrade kits worth mentioning are Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) by Boeing Corporation and the Dual Mode Laser Guided Bomb (DMLGB) by Lockheed Martin. The JDAM upgrades include GPS aided inertial navigation system with a range of up to 24km.The DMLGB kit, provides LGBs with a semi active laser, GPS/INS guidance.
Air Launched Torpedoes Stingray is a lightweight torpedo manufactured by BAE Systems. It has a diameter of 324mm, weight of 267kg, and length of 2.6m. Its speed is 45kts with a range of 8km and its warhead is 45kg of Torpex. It can dive up to 800m. Mk46 Mod5 torpedo is the mainstay of US Navy’s air launched lightweight torpedoes. Alliant Tech Systems manufacture it. It has a diameter of 324mm, length of 2.59m, with a weight of 231kg.It runs on Otto fuel, has a range of 11km with a speed of 40kts and can dive upto365m. The Mk 54 Lightweight Torpedo of Raytheon is a hybrid of technologies taken from MK 46, MK48 and MK50 torpedoes. It is supposed to have homing and warhead of the MK50 and propulsion package of the MK46 torpedo. P8i aircraft of the Indian Navy are to be equipped with this torpedo. The A244/S developed by WAAS and currently manufactured by the Euro Torp consortium is a 324mm diameter, 2.8m long, and 244kg weight torpedo. It has a cruise/surge speed of 30/39kts, with a range of 6km and depth up to 600m. It has special signal processing to distinguish target from decoys.A244/S Mod 3 is the latest upgrade, which has more powerful propulsion battery, ensuring a 50% increase in the endurance of the weapon to13.5 km. The MU90/IMPACT torpedo by Euro Torp is a 323.7mm ‘NATO Standard’ calibre, 2.85 mm long with a weight of 304 kg weapon. An Aluminium-Silver Oxide seawater battery using dissolved sodium-dioxide powder as electrolyte with a closed-loop electrolyte re-circulation system powers it. The control and guidance electronics has embedded operational and tactical software including the signal processing, the data processing and the torpedo guidance algorithms, which enable continuous updating of its configuration and tactics.
Low Cost Anti Submarine Weapon (LCAW) A200/A is a miniature torpedo developed by WASS. It is a low cost option, which provides propulsion and guidance to a depth charge without the costs of a torpedo. The A200/A version has a length of 914.4mm, weight of 12kg, and a diameter of 123.8 mm. The warhead is a 2.5kg PBX shaped charge and the LCAW has an operating depth from 15m to300m. It has a speed of about 18kts with a range of 2km.
Anti Ship Missiles Sea Skua manufactured by MBDA (UK) is a 145 kg, 2.5m long Anti Shipping Missile primarily launched from helicopters like Westland Lynx. It uses solid fuel, has a 30 kg SAP, RDX warhead, and has range of 25 km. It utilises semi-active radar guidance system. RBS-15 is a long range ASM manufactured by Saab Bofors Dynamics. It is an 800kg, 4.33m long turbojet missile with a range of 250kms and has a 200kg HE warhead. It is a sub sonic sea skimmer using, GPS, inertial and active radar guidance. MBDA is the manufacturer of EXOCET AM 39. It is a 670kg, 4.69m long high subsonic missile with a range of 70 km. It uses solid propellant turbo jet engine and has inertial and terminal active radar guidance with a165 kg insensitive warhead. Manufactured by Boeing, AGM-84 Harpoon Block II is an 1160lb, 151.5in missile with a range of 67 nm. It has a turbo jet cruise engine with a solid booster and uses GPS aided inertial guidance with terminal active guidance .It has a 500lb last warhead. Indian Navy has ordered this missile as a weapon outfit for its P-8i aircraft.