Military Review

Gliding torpedo: HAAWC system for P-8A Poseidon aircraft reached initial operational readiness

Gliding torpedo: HAAWC system for P-8A Poseidon aircraft reached initial operational readiness
P-8A aircraft dropping Mk 54 torpedo with parachute system

Marine aviation The US Navy has brought a set of HAAWC equipment to the stage of initial operational readiness. It is intended for the P-8A Poseidon base patrol aircraft and should complement the standard anti-submarine weapons in the form of Mk 54 light torpedoes. With the help of such kits, it is planned to get rid of a number of objective limitations and expand the combat capabilities of the aircraft.

Anti-submarine restrictions

The P-8A patrol/anti-submarine aircraft carries a variety of search equipment and sonar buoys designed to search for and detect underwater targets. To destroy such targets, depth charges or torpedoes of the Mk 54 Lightweight Torpedo type are used. Armament is transported on five hardpoints in the internal compartment and on six external ones.

The Mk 54 aircraft torpedo is equipped with a parachute system that reduces the speed of descent and ensures safe entry into the water. However, the maximum drop height is limited - if it is exceeded, the descent speed will be excessive and will lead to damage or destruction of the torpedo.

Accordingly, before dropping the torpedo, the Poseidon must leave the working altitude of the patrol and decrease to an acceptable limit. As a result, the range of observation, communication, etc. is sharply reduced. In addition, during the time it takes to reach a given altitude, the aircraft may lose contact with the target, and its restoration is associated with certain difficulties. Climbing to working height also takes time.

The way out of this situation is obvious: the aircraft needs an anti-submarine weapon system that allows it to drop torpedoes from a patrol height. As far as is known, such issues were worked out at the stage of development of the future P-8A, but until a certain time this topic did not receive all the necessary attention.

HAAWC System Reset Demonstration

A successful solution

The development of a new anti-submarine system capable of optimizing the use of existing torpedoes started in the mid-8s. The contract for its creation was received by Boeing, which had previously created the P-XNUMXA aircraft. The project received navy designation HAAWC (High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability - "High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapons").

It took several years to create a new project. Boeing has developed an ALA (Air Launch Accessory) device designed for installation on the Mk 54 torpedo. Work has also been done to integrate new components into the Poseidon weapons system.

At the end of the tenth years, the Navy and Boeing began testing both individual tools and the entire HAAWC system as a whole. After a preliminary check, torpedoes with an "accessory" of the ALA type were dropped. In general, the tests were successful, and according to their results, the system was recommended for adoption.

In mid-August 2022, the US Navy issued an official contract to Boeing for the full-scale serial production of HAAWC in order to re-equip combat units. The number of ordered kits was not reported. At the same time, they specified that the contractor will supply finished products, as well as accompany them during operation, maintain and improve them.

On November 22, Boeing announced that the HAAWC system had reached the level of initial operational readiness. Due to mass production of products of a new type, it was possible to equip one of the patrol aviation squadrons, and now it can use Mk 54 torpedoes without the old restrictions. In the foreseeable future, the transition of the first unit to full operational readiness is expected. In addition, a similar weapon will receive the 11 remaining squadrons on the Poseidons.

HAAWC in action: one torpedo is gliding, another is already parachuting

However, the system is not yet ready for full operation in all conditions and in all modes. According to known data, the Navy and Boeing have not yet tested it at all expected altitudes. The remaining tests with the release of torpedoes from maximum heights, up to the ceiling of the carrier, will take place in the near future.

Gliding torpedo

The objective of the HAAWC project was to ensure the safe launch and entry of the torpedo into the water. The existing parachute system or its analogues could not cope with such a task, and a gliding descent option was chosen. It is implemented using the AL device, which turns a torpedo into a kind of aircraft.

The ALA product is a non-motorized drone based on the units of existing missiles such as the AGM-84H/K SLAM-ER. It has an elongated flat fuselage, on the bottom of which there are torpedo mounts. In the central part of the fuselage there is a folding wing, in the tail there is an empennage with a stabilizer and a keel. The length of the product does not exceed 3 m with approximately the same wingspan.

The ALA product uses control systems borrowed from the JDAM family of bombs. The onboard autopilot works according to the data of inertial and satellite navigation systems and issues commands to steering machines in plumage. Two-way communication with the carrier is provided for receiving commands and transmitting telemetry.

A Mk 54 torpedo is suspended under such a “drone” in its original configuration, including a braking parachute. The light torpedo has a caliber of 324 mm and a length of 2,72 m; weight - 276 kg. The torpedo is equipped with a liquid fuel heat engine, due to which a speed of more than 40 knots is achieved; range - more than 9 km. Active and passive acoustic guidance is used. The torpedo carries a charge of 44 kg.

The principle of operation of the HAAWC kit

A Mk 54 torpedo with an ALA device is placed on the internal or external suspension of a P-8A aircraft. No suspension modifications are required. In addition, there is no need for a major change in the on-board devices of the carrier or their software.

The exact flight characteristics of the HAAWC system have not yet been reported. According to the terms of reference, it should ensure the safe launch of a torpedo in a wide range of altitudes, but specific numbers have not been published. ALA torpedo range must exceed 20 nautical miles.

The principle of operation of the HAAWC kit is quite simple. Having found an underwater target, the aircraft crew enters the necessary commands and data into the device. After reaching the line of use of weapons, a torpedo is dropped from the ALA. The aircraft delivers a torpedo to a given point, where it drops it from a small height. Then the torpedo is lowered into the water with the help of a parachute and begins to work according to the standard program. ALA product no longer needed falls to the side and sinks.

New opportunities

The customer and the developer indicate that the adoption of HAAWC into service allows patrol aircraft to get rid of several characteristic difficulties, as well as to gain new opportunities. The main result is the possibility of dropping a torpedo at almost any moment of the flight, without the need for a preliminary descent.

Due to this, the aircraft does not lose time and can attack the underwater target as quickly as possible after it is detected. Also, it becomes possible to track the target almost until it is hit by a torpedo - with fixing the result of the use of weapons. At the same time, the risks of losing the target are reduced, and it is also easier to restore contact with it.

Using HAAWC in Difficult Environments

Unlike "regular" Mk 54s, "gliding" torpedoes can be dropped from a long distance. Due to this, and also due to the high maneuverability of the ALA device, it is simplified to deliver the torpedo to the optimal dive point and start the search for the target. The solution of such problems by aircraft may not be so effective.

The HAAWC system has the ability to retarget in flight. When the tactical situation changes, target designation is clarified, etc. the carrier aircraft can form a new flight mission and redirect the torpedo to another point.

In the short and medium term, the P-8A patrol aircraft will remain the only HAAWC carrier. Integration with other aircraft is not yet planned. Nevertheless, the possibility of using such kits as part of a full-scale layered anti-submarine defense is not ruled out. In this case, Poseidon with Mk 54 / ALA will work on target designation of third-party means. A gliding flight will make it possible to more fully use the potential of such a multicomponent system.

initial readiness

Thus, at the disposal of the patrol aircraft of the US Navy there is a new tool that simplifies the fight against submarines. So far, we are talking only about the initial operational readiness in one of the squadrons and the continuation of tests to determine all the characteristics. However, the HAAWC program is moving forward, and over the next few years it is expected to receive all the results in the form of the required characteristics and deployment of weapons in parts.

These processes pose a certain danger to the submarine forces of third countries. It is obvious that the fleets of potential US adversaries are monitoring the development of P-8A patrol aircraft and their weapons, as well as preparing the necessary response measures. How exactly they plan to deal with "planning torpedoes" is still unknown, but such means will be found.
Photos used:
Boeing Co., US Department of Defense

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  1. Vladimir_2U
    Vladimir_2U 1 December 2022 05: 04
    Another nail in the coffin for submarines forced to operate without surface fleet cover.
    1. Ka-52
      Ka-52 1 December 2022 08: 04
      Poseidons have been plowing the open spaces for 10 years already (and before that there were Orions). And Mk54 even more. So this nail isn't another one
      1. Vladimir_2U
        Vladimir_2U 1 December 2022 08: 49
        Quote: Ka-52
        Poseidons have been plowing the open spaces for 10 years already (and before that there were Orions). And Mk54 even more. So this nail isn't another one

        Well, the old nail was equipped with a notch and gilded.
        The main result is the possibility of dropping a torpedo at almost any moment of the flight, without the need for a preliminary descent.
    2. Beaver
      Beaver 1 December 2022 11: 24
      Aviation cover would be an alternative solution
      1. Vladimir_2U
        Vladimir_2U 1 December 2022 14: 55
        Quote from Beaver.
        Aviation cover would be an alternative solution

        Coastal aviation is somehow effective up to 500 km from the coast, further the efficiency decreases sharply.
  2. FoBoss_VM
    FoBoss_VM 1 December 2022 05: 19
    And what do we have in this direction? Not even planes?
    1. Petya Kuzmin
      Petya Kuzmin 1 December 2022 08: 04
      The Wiki says that Russia is armed with Soviet anti-submarine aircraft Tu-142 and Il-38. But they are certainly inferior to the new modification of the bong 737.
      1. FoBoss_VM
        FoBoss_VM 1 December 2022 12: 47
        Well, as you know, it is also written on the fence, and there is firewood. How many patrols does the US have, and how many do we have. The gap is the same as in the drill or even worse. And most importantly, there is no tendency to at least some kind of rectification of the situation .. And this saddens even more
      2. wladimirjankov
        wladimirjankov 1 December 2022 13: 05
        Yes, we have practically no naval aviation. There are no modern boards, no equipment. The nuclear submarines of our enemies feel completely safe and not vulnerable. And behave accordingly.
    2. The comment was deleted.
  3. Trapp1st
    Trapp1st 1 December 2022 11: 27
    HAAWC for P-8A Poseidon aircraft
    Original, cool. Unfortunately...
    1. spirit
      spirit 1 December 2022 13: 11
      So the Americans are pragmatic guys, they take the old and make high-precision out of it. It worked out well with JDAM, why not do it with torpedoes? But this strategy did not work for us, someone drank the dough well on Hephaestus, whose effectiveness of dropping from a strafing flight we observe. hi
  4. wladimirjankov
    wladimirjankov 1 December 2022 12: 56
    Why our military-industrial complex has not yet created a system similar to JDAM. After all, Americans and Jews have been using it for a long time and it has proven its effectiveness and necessity. We have huge arsenals of cast-iron high-explosive, volumetric, thermobaric and other unguided bombs. Which, unfortunately, due to the still not suppressed air defense, our army cannot fully use in the NVO. We are losing aircraft and flight personnel, who are forced to take risks and fly into the zone of action of air defense systems. In fact, this is not an expensive and not overly complex device (a set of expanding wings and a control and communication unit) allows you to turn ordinary air bombs into guided and high-precision ones that can be launched 30-50 km from targets.
    1. Kotofeich
      Kotofeich 1 December 2022 14: 12
      Quote: wladimirjankov
      In fact, this is not an expensive and not archaic device.

      And that's the reason why it's not expensive. It’s better to stir up some kind of super-duper smart rocket, show a beautiful layout, knock out money for it, and cut it. And then say: "Sorry, it didn't work" feel
    2. Vladimir Yurievich
      Vladimir Yurievich 7 December 2022 13: 49
      Quote: wladimirjankov
      Why our military-industrial complex has not yet created a system

      The answer lies on the surface. The problem is that, due to the current economic model in the Russian Federation, our airlines, such as Aeroflot, S7, etc., cannot finance such domestic developments and, due to the lack of choice of aircraft fleet suppliers, are forced, by buying, for example, a Boeing-737, partially, little by little to finance , including the development of HAAWC for the US Navy's P-8A Poseidon aircraft.
  5. basal
    basal 1 December 2022 19: 03
    Maybe I don't understand something, but what's new? This torpedo, which is designed for hundreds of miles? So the PLO aircraft will overcome this distance in a few minutes and will shy away with a much more powerful depth charge. What is the essence of the question?
    1. evgen1221
      evgen1221 1 December 2022 19: 52
      Well, to be, and the money is again dripping for re-equipment. Everyone is happy.
    2. ycuce234-san
      ycuce234-san 1 December 2022 21: 27
      At the same time, they saved taxpayers' money (an old, old torpedo) and found a cheap solution for a "hopeless" task (they couldn't manage to replace the parachute system of the torpedo itself with the one needed for dropping from a great height).
      The next generations of new torpedoes will probably be able to slow down with a rocket engine.
    3. chebman
      chebman 3 December 2022 13: 12
      Stylish trendy youth.
      This is not throwing cast iron!
  6. Vladimir Postnikov
    Vladimir Postnikov 2 December 2022 13: 35
    Work was also carried out to integrate new components into the Poseidon weapons complex.
    The Tale of the Three Poseidons. Poseidon lived and lived. He flew himself over the sea, he did not know grief. But Poseidon heard that another mighty Poseidon had appeared in the world, which could bring the whole world to dust. Poseidon tensed up from such news, and began to think about how to deal with an opponent. I thought, thought, and came up with: "That mighty opponent must probably be very noisy. Well, I'll drop a torpedo on him from above by his noise." And developed all the necessary devices. And then he learned that he was ahead of the third Poseidon, the hunter for the celestials, who allegedly created the second Poseidon. "Poseidons divorced like mud" - thought the first Poseidon, affectionately stroking the made devices.
  7. Div Divich
    Div Divich 5 January 2023 10: 33
    Launching a torpedo without a ship is a great idea, you don't need to drive a whole fleet to guard the coast. Arrived, scanned the square, launched, flew away. Russia also needs such weapons.

    If you can attach these torpedoes to mass-produced aircraft and helicopters, then you won't need to produce many ships. And planes and helicopters are always needed, the territory of Russia is gigantic.
  8. gas113
    gas113 5 January 2023 11: 30
    Good system. allows you to hit detected submarines over a larger area. Surely there is a possibility in the future to install rocket boosters, engines
  9. AC130 Gunship
    AC130 Gunship 15 January 2023 18: 06
    India switched from outdated Tu10 to P142 about 8 years ago. In Russia, as far as I understand, Tu214 has not yet been recognized as a good solution for a carrier. There was a project (on paper) for IL114, but since there is no basic aircraft itself, then there is no anti-submarine one either. Yes, and the range and maximum takeoff weight there are absolutely not suitable for such tasks where patrol time is needed from 6 hours and above