The new lightweight autonomous torpedo will be used alongside the Mk 54 torpedo.
The Royal Air Force has chosen a new UK manufactured torpedo to be used on its Poseidon MRA1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The Sting Ray Mod 1 torpedo is currently being integrated as the Poseidon’s as its future torpedo capability, giving the UK a potent and sovereign torpedo capability, alongside continued use of the U.S. Navy’s Mk54 weapon, improving the fleet’s flexibility.
Sting Ray Mod 1 is an air-launched Anti-Submarine Warfare lightweight torpedo developed by BAE Systems to be launched from frigates, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft against submarine targets of all types. Developed from its predecessor Mod 0 torpedo, Sting Ray Mod 1 features a completely new sonar system, an Insensitive Munition Warhead, a new tactical and navigation system and a new sea water battery system.
The RAF Poseidon aircraft is to receive a new weapon.
— Royal Air Force (@RoyalAirForce) November 30, 2023
“The use of Sting Ray and Mk54 torpedoes gives the UK Poseidon fleet flexibility and interoperability with our allies,” said Group Captain Richard Osselton, Senior Responsible Officer for Poseidon Futures Programme. “I’m delighted to see integration of Sting Ray Mod 1 has commenced at RAF Lossiemouth.”
Already in service with the Royal Navy, Sting Ray Mod 1 can be integrated into surface and air platform mission systems. The enhanced Mod 1 torpedo capitalised on the investment in the original Mod 0 torpedo and its supporting infrastructure, resulting in low through life costs and no need for intrusive maintenance throughout its service life.
Sting Ray Mod 1 was designed to defeat the dual threats of fast, deep diving double-hulled submarines operating in the oceanic environment and the quiet, conventional submarine in coastal waters. The enhanced performance of Sting Ray Mod 1 is underpinned by the development of new acoustic and tactical software, drawing on knowledge gained from extensive in-water trials with the Mod 0 weapon.
What really sets the Sting Ray Mod 1 apart from the Mk 54 is its autonomy capabilities, according to the Royal Air Force. In fact, the service says Sting Ray is the world’s premier lightweight, autonomous underwater weapon, which can detect, classify, and attack targets autonomously assisted by a sophisticated acoustic homing system and a highly accurate navigation system.
A new Sting Ray Mod 2 variant is already in development, as confirmed during the recent tests where a T-600 electric-powered heavy lift UAS demonstrated the ability to carry and release an inert Sting Ray torpedo. The demonstration happened during NATO REPMUS (Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping using Maritime Uncrewed Systems) 23 exercise, which involved 15 NATO nations and was hosted by the Portuguese Navy in September 2023.
“Our development of Sting Ray Mod 2 is focused on weapon effectiveness and increasing the ways in which the torpedo can be deployed,” said in that occasion Dave Quick, Head of Underwater Weapons at BAE Systems’ Maritime Services. “We’re extending the breadth of supported platforms and maturing new torpedo deployment mechanisms, including drones, to explore the operational benefits to anti-submarine warfare and anti-torpedo defence.”