03 May 2011 naval-technology.com
The MU90 continues its operational progression with the French Navy, following the delivery of the 200th MU90 light weight torpedo in July 2010 by the French Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA).
Since then, the French Navy has started to deploy its first MU90 LWT for operational exercises in parallel with batch acceptance tests. During an advanced anti-submarine exercise in April 2011, the operational crew of one ATLANTIQUE2 (ATL2) maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) successfully performed tracking, classification and long range engagement of a CALAS autonomous target simulating a submarine. Thanks to using the MU90, the French Navy has made a significant step change in ASW capability. Following early operational capability validation in 2008 in partnership with Eurotorp, the French Navy has started to conduct exercises on its own with the MU90, helping the torpedo on its next step towards full operation.
Today, almost all the ATL2 have been modified to ensure the launching capability of the MU90. The MU90 airborne solution adopted for this aircraft is a semi-integrated one so as not to interfere with the aircraft data management system while being connected to the platform attitude data, thus granting maximum freedom of manoeuvre to the crew prior to the launch. This intermediate solution has minimised modifications on board the aircraft without degrading any of the MU90’s performance. The MU90 is preset through the very user-friendly 'PCA' semi-integrated airborne presetter, providing the TACCO the full range of MU90 presets through pre-defined scenarios in which every preset can be modified if needed. The success of MU90 air launches demonstrates the full efficiency of MU90 when embarked on board any air platform.
Of 324mm diameter, the MU90 can be embarked on board any type of ASW air fixed or rotary wing aircraft. In addition to ATL2, the MU90 is qualified on board NH90, Lynx, EH101 Merlin, SH-2G Sea Sprite with different solutions ranging from stand-alone to fully integrated ones, through specific equipments or aircraft store management system. MU90, offering an unmatchable flight domain up to 900m in altitude and 400kts in speed, is today a candidate to be embarked on board all anti-submarine warfare air platforms, including the helicopters Panther, AW159, S70B, MH-60R and MH92 as well as the maritime patrol aircraft C295, ATR72, Dash8, P3C and P8. Eurotorp is already in advanced talks with the majority of air platform suppliers to achieve this goal.
The MU90 is a fire-and-forget weapon designed to counter any type of nuclear or conventional submarine, acoustically coated, deep and fast-evasive, deploying active or passive anti-torpedo effectors. The torpedo features unique system characteristics which allow real operational capability in coastal waters. The MU90 is powered through a closed-loop aluminium–silver oxide sea water battery delivering twice the energy of all the other LWTs as well as total safety. It is equipped with a fully-insensitive directed energy shaped charge warhead, proven to penetrate double-hulled large submarines, advanced acoustic head and last generation mission software. Of extremely long endurance, the engagement distance is beyond 12,000m, whatever the submarine depth. The MU90 operates without any speed degradation and without any limitation of salinity and temperature at depths >1000m or as shallow as 25m, whilst retaining navigation capability up to 3m.
The MU90 LWT is in service with the French, Italian, German, Danish, and Polish Navies, and has also been delivered and accepted by the Commonwealth of Australia (CoA). In France, the MU90 is embarked on board F70 and Horizon frigates, ATL2 MPA and Lynx helicopters. It will be also embarked soon, in France and in Italy as well, on board FREMM frigates and NH90 helicopters.