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Torpedoes: Mark 46, Mark 48, Mark 50

Torpedo is self-propelled guided projectile that operates underwater and is designed to detonate on contact or in proximity to a target.
Torpedoes may be launched from submarines, surface ships, helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. They are also used as parts of other weapons; the Mark 46 torpedo becomes the warhead section of the ASROC (Anti-Submarine ROCket) and the Captor mine uses a submerged sensor platform that releases a torpedo when a hostile contact is detected. The three major torpedoes in the Navy inventory are the Mark 48 heavyweight torpedo, the Mark 46 lightweight and the Mark 50 advanced lightweight.

The MK-48 is designed to combat fast, deep-diving nuclear submarines and high performance surface ships. It is carried by all Navy submarines. The improved version, MK-48 ADCAP, is carried by attack submarines, the Ohio class ballistic missile submarines and will be carried by the Seawolf class attack submarines. The MK-48 replaced both the MK-37 and MK-14 torpedoes. The MK-48 has been operational in the U.S. Navy since 1972. MK-48 ADCAP became operational in 1988 and was approved for full production in 1989 - look at its attack.
The MK-46 torpedo is designed to attack high performance submarines, and is presently identified as the NATO standard. The MK-46 Mod 5 torpedo is the backbone of the Navy's lightweight ASW torpedo inventory and is expected to remain in service until the year 2015.
The MK-50 is an advanced lightweight torpedo for use against the faster, deeper-diving and more sophisticated submarines. The MK-50 can be launched from all ASW aircraft, and from torpedo tubes aboard surface combatant ships. The MK-50 will eventually replace the MK-46 as the fleet's lightweight torpedo.
MK-48 and MK-48 ADCAP torpedoes can operate with or without wire guidance and use active and/or passive homing. When launched they execute programmed target search, acquisition and attack procedures. Both can conduct multiple reattacks if they miss the target. The MK-46 torpedo is designed to be launched from surface combatant torpedo tubes, ASROC missiles and fixed and rotary wing aircraft. In 1989, a major upgrade program began to enhance the performance of the MK-46 Mod 5 in shallow water. Weapons incorporating these improvements are identified as Mod 5A and Mod 5A(S).

General characteristics

MK-48, MK-48 (ADCAP)

Primary function Heavyweight torpedo for submarines
Contractor Gould
Power plant Piston engine; pump jet
Length 19 ft 5.79 m
Weight MK-48 3,434 lb 1,545.3 kg
MK-48 ADCAP 3,695 lb 1,662.75 kg
Diameter 21 in 53.34 cm
Range More than 5 miles 8 km
Depth More than 1,200 ft 366 m
Speed More than 28 knots 51.5 km/h
Guidance system Wire guided and passive/active acoustic homing
Warhead 650 lb 292.5 kg
Date deployed 1972

MK-46 MOD 5

Primary function Air and ship-launched lightweight torpedo
Contractor Alliant Techsystems
Power plant Two-speed, reciprocating external combustion; Mono-propellant (Otto fuel II) fueled
Length 102.36 in 2.6 m
Weight 517.65 lb 234.8 kg
Diameter 12.75 in 32.4 cm
Range 8,000 yards 7,315 m
Depth More than 1,200 ft 366 m
Speed More than 28 knots 51.52 km/h
Guidance system Homing mode Active or passive/active acoustic homing
Launch/search mode Snake or circle search
Warhead 98 lb 44.45 kg
Date deployed 1966 (Mod 0); 1979 (Mod 5)


Primary function Air and ship-launched lightweight torpedo
Contractor Alliant Techsystems, Westinghouse
Power plant Stored Chemical Energy Propulsion System
Length 112 in 284.5 cm
Weight 750 lb 340.2 kg
Diameter 12.75 in 32.4 cm
Speed 40+ knots 74 km/h
Guidance system Active/passive acoustic homing
Warhead Approximately 100 pounds high explosive (shaped charge) 45,4 kg

Jirka Wagner


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