Monday, June 10, 2013

Surface Ship Torpedo Defense, SSTD

Here's a bit of good news ...  A NavSea public relations release (1) describes recent tests of the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) conducted aboard the USS Bush (CVN-77).  The system combines an automated torpedo detection capability with an active, hard-kill torpedo defense weapon consisting of an encapsulated miniature torpedo.  Like a surface to air missile, the mini-torpedo is launched to intercept the attacking torpedo.  NavSea describes the seven test iterations as successful though without providing any details.

The release notes that the system is only an engineering prototype.  Still, this is a capability that has been an obvious need for decades so it’s good to see progress being made.  The only disquieting aspect of this is the 2035 date listed as the goal for equipping the ships.  That’s a long way off for a system that’s at the full scale prototype stage. 

A Feb 2012 Appropriation/Budget Activity document (2) describes the intent to outfit several carriers over the next couple of years with developmental versions of the system rather than wait for production models due to the high threat level.

On a related note, the British Navy has an SSTD based on passive countermeasures that is already operational.

We’ll keep an eye on this system as it continues to develop!





6 comments:

  1. The datasheet for the RN system is here

    http://www.ultra-sonar.com/resources/Surface%20Ship%20Torpedo%20Defence%20(3).pdf

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    1. Think Defence, thanks for the link! I'm not intimately familiar with the RN. Any idea why they haven't pursued hard kill options?

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  2. The USN already has passive countermeasures available, but the anti-torpedo torpedo capability has been commonly referred to as the Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD). The program has been hit with numerous program changes, with the focus being shifted between the High Value Units (HVU) such as carrier and big deck amphibs and the CRUSDES platforms. I believe the focus was on HVU, then to CRUDES, and is now back to HVU. That has certainly caused some delays in the program since there are obviously different integration challenges.

    Related to this, there was a demonstration of an ATT capability for the MK 54 about a year ago that went very well, and promised the ability to field an ATT capability on CRUDES platforms with a minimal of effort due to the MK 54 already being integrated and fielded on those platforms.

    - InterestedParty

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  3. IntParty, I'm completely unaware of the Mk54 being tested for use as an ATT. Do you have any references for that? Thanks!

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    1. I found a couple of open source references for the demonstration, including the PB13 MK 54 budget exhibit (1) and an NDIA paper (2). I did not find any open source references that discuss the results of the demonstration, but I had some outside involvement. There were certainly limitations to the demonstration and to a planned capability, but it would seem to be a no-brainer to employ a multi-mode weapon with an ATT and ASW capability. Also, the proposed modifications to the MK 54 would also suggest that true ASuW capability could be fielded, which would open a whole other realm of possibilities. What about integrating the MK 54 with a Tomahawk to engage sub-surface targets at long ranges (either through organic or off-board sensors), or use that same MK 54 equipped Tomahawk to engage surface targets? There was an old concept that called for a Tomahawk to deliver a lightweight torpedo, with the torpedo attacking the surface target from below while the Tomahawk would continue to impact the target from above. Some neat possibilities that would not be expensive to field. Of course, the small(er) diameter ATT that was used from the BUSH could also have an offensive capability...

      (1) http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2013/Navy/stamped/0604610N_5_PB_2013.pdf
      (2) http://www.ndia.org/Divisions/Divisions/UnderseaWarfare/Documents/Newsletter%20-%20Fall%202011.pdf

      - InterestedParty

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    2. IntParty, I looked at those references. Both describe the intent to conduct some initial testing in 2012 but neither states that any testing actually occured and I can't find any public record of the tests taking place or what the results were if they did occur. One of the docs described some simulation testing but not actual performance tests. You state that you were involved in the tests to some extent and that they went well. I'll accept that and keep an eye open for additional information. Thanks for the heads up on this!

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