American technology contractor Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) received an additional $102.5 million contract to continue supporting the US Navy‘s Mk-48 Mod 7 Heavyweight Torpedo program.

In a press release, the SAIC said this is a modification to a previously awarded $1.1 billion production contract, which also includes sustaining the company’s quest to develop, test, manufacture, and deliver the Mk-48 Mod 7 Torpedo Afterbody Tailcones and Mk-29 Mod 0 Warshot Fuel Tanks for the Navy and signed foreign partners.

“SAIC has a long history of supporting the US Navy, notably our work providing the dominant undersea weapons it requires,” said Bob Genter, SAIC’s Defense and Civilian Sector President, in a press release. “We are honored by the Navy’s confidence in SAIC, and proud to expand our support of the Mk-48 program.”

A submarine-launched torpedo, the Mk-48 is made to counter surface and sub-surface threats in deep and shallow waters. It is the only anti-submarine and anti-surface ship weapon used by Navy submarines.

According to its fact sheet, the heavyweight torpedo program kickstarted in the late 1960s to keep pace with the Soviet Union’s advancing underwater technology. Its first version became operational in 1972, replacing torpedoes Mk-37, Mk-14, and Mk-16 as the primary lethal munition of the US Navy submarines, including Ohio-class ballistic missile subs and Seawolf-, Los Angeles-, Virginia-class attack subs, and a few other international Navies.

heavyweight Mk-48 torpedo
Sailors secure a heavyweight Mk-48 torpedo during a weapons on-load. (Image source: DVIDS)

The heavyweight torpedo remains in service today with several modifications to its abilities throughout the years. Each weighs 3,744 pounds (1,700 kilograms) and measures 21 inches (53 centimeters) in diameter. Using an acoustic-homing sonar, a liquid-propellant engine drives it and engages targets at up to 50 knots (58 miles per hour).

In 2006, the Mod 7 variant achieved its initial operational capability. This software enhances “the torpedo’s ability to detect and classify enemy submarine and surface ships.”

By 2018, the service began another set of modifications, now equipped with Advanced Processor Build (APB) 5 software that bolsters the torpedo’s Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) performance.