Deadly Encounters: US Navy P-8 Poseidon Patrol Aircraft Now Armed with MK-54 Torpedoes
The capabilities of the United States Navy’s P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft are even more terrifying after being armed with MK-54 torpedoes. This maritime patrol aircraft is capable of dropping torpedoes from the air around its cruising altitude.
The High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability (HAAWC) is capable of switching the firing system of the MK-54 light air-dropped anti-submarine torpedo. These torpedoes became long-range weapons that were dispatched quickly.
“We are excited to provide greater flexibility and capability through launching at altitudes from greater distances than was possible before,” said Dewayne Donley, HAAWC program manager at Boeing. 2022).
The HAAWC system consists of a wing kit, which Boeing calls an Air Launch Accessory (ALA), for the MK-54 light torpedo. Upon launch, the two pop-out wings spread and the weapon glides to a target area determined using the GPS guidance system. Upon reaching the target area, the ALA system released the torpedo using a tail parachute before entering the water. This method is to slow down the descent of the torpedo and prevent damage when it hits the water.
The wing kit system used comes from Boeing’s AGM-84H/K Standoff Land Attack Missile-Expanded Response (SLAM-ER) air-launched cruise missile. Meanwhile, the guidance package is based on that used in the Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) or precision guided bombs.
Boeing says that the wing kit it is developing is typical for use on 500-pound JDAM-class bombs, while the MK-54 torpedo weighs about 608 pounds, allowing the bombs to glide to targets as far as 40 miles (64.37 km). These estimates, of course, depend heavily on the speed and altitude of the aircraft at discharge.
The HAAWC system allows the P-8A’s crew to engage the MK-54 torpedoes remotely, reducing their potential vulnerability to enemy air defenses in the area. This is because air-dropped anti-submarine torpedoes usually have to be released at a very low altitude of about 100 feet (30 meters) above the water, so they are relatively close to the target.
“The all-weather HAAWC system allows the Boeing P-8A Poseidon to deploy the MK-54 torpedo from near or below cruising altitude,” said a Boeing press release. The P-8A’s absolute maximum sky-high altitude was 41,000 feet, but its cruising altitude approached about 33,000 feet (10,000 meters).
P-8A Poseidon aircraft are now permitted to deploy the HAAWC-equipped MK-54 torpedoes at least close to their cruising altitude. This capability offers a significant increase in its anti-submarine warfare capability and overall survivability.