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British Navy HMS Audacious submarine conducts firing tests with improved torpedo Spearfish Mod-1

According to information published by the British Navy, the HMS Audacious (S122), an Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine in service with the British Navy has conducted firing tests in the Bahamas of improved Spearfish torpedo, known as the Mod-1.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 British Navy Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine HMS Audacious has conducted firing tests in the Bahamas with of improved Spearfish torpedo, known as the Mod-1. (Picture source British Navy)

The firings at AUTEC, the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Centre on Andros Island, studied the performance of the Spearfish at its maximum operating depth and challenged the torpedo's homing abilities through the introduction of countermeasures.

The trials in the Bahamas were the latest in a string of crucial tests on the upgraded heavyweight torpedo since the decision was taken to enhance it in 2010. These trials took place after Initial Operating Capability was achieved, meaning work can now begin turning existing Spearfish into the improved Mod-1 version for entry into operational service with all Royal Navy submarines by 2025.

The HMS Audacious is the fourth Astute-class nuclear-powered submarine in service with the Royal British Navy. She was launched on April 2017 and commissioned on April 3, 2020. The submarine is powered by two Rolls-Royce PWR 2 nuclear-pressurized water reactors and MTU 600-kilowatt diesel generators. She can reach a top submerged speed of 30 knots (56 km/h).

The HMS Audacious has a length of 97 m, a beam of 11.3 m, a draught of 10 m, and a maximum displacement of 8,600 tons. She has an endurance of 90 days and a crew of 98 people.

The HMS Audacious is armed with 6 21 inches (533 mm) torpedo tubes able to fire Tomahawk Block IV (tactical tomahawk) cruise missiles and Spearfish torpedoes and mines. There is a capacity for a total of 36 torpedoes and missiles.

British Navy HMS Audacious conducts firing test with improved torpedo Spearfish Mod 1 925 002
Engineers of British Navy preparing Mod-1 Spearfish torpedo for trial on-board HMS Audacious nuclear-powered submarine. (Picture source British Navy)

The Spearfish is a heavy torpedo manufactured by BAE Systems Underwater and used by the submarines of the Royal British Navy. It can be guided by wire or by autonomous active or passive sonar and provides both anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and anti-surface ship warfare (ASuW) capability.

The Spearfish Mod 1 benefits from significant advances in its homing, warhead, and tactical systems. It will also receive a high bandwidth fiber-optic data link between the torpedo and the launching vessel. The use of modular hardware improves weapon maintainability and reduces through-life operating costs for the Ministry of Defense. The upgraded weapon will be re-programmable ‘through the skin’ to incorporate the latest developments in sonar technology and to take account of intelligence on evolving threat characteristics.

Spearfish Mod 1 features: a 533mm diameter, tube-launched system; high-speed propulsion system; large blast warhead payload; fiber-optically wire-guided and autonomous operation; excellent maneuverability; low radiated noise; discriminative homing and advanced tactical intelligence. The Mod 1 upgrade will provide operational capability up to the year 2050.