Swedish defense contractor Saab has conducted the first firing tests of their new Saab Lightweight Torpedo (SLWT) from a surface vessel and a submarine.
Working with the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) and the Swedish Armed Forces the tests are the first of their kind for the new torpedo and were undertaken during February and March 2020, on Sweden’s east coast in the Baltic Sea.
The tests were conducted from a Gotland-class submarine and a Visby-class corvette. The launch tests were to verify that the torpedo can be safely launched from the respective vessels, which also included checking the integration on the vessels respective fire control systems as well as the SLWT’s target seeker.
Görgen Johansson, Head of Saab’s Dynamics business area, said that:
“The Saab Lightweight Torpedo will provide the Swedish and Finnish Navy with the ability to deter and if necessary destroy hostile underwater and surface threats. Having completed these tests successfully is a major milestone in this joint project.”
The development of the torpedo – which has been type designated as the “Torped 47” – commenced with an order from the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) in 2016 valued at $184 million.
The new weapon is intended to replace the existing Torped 45 torpedo, which entered service in 1995 – and will be capable of engaging both submarines and surface targets using multiple-target active/passive homing combined with wire guidance. It will also be capable of use from ASW helicopters and fixed-wing maritime patrol aircraft and thus also has an option for a launched torpedo to act independently.
Swedish lightweight torpedoes are somewhat unique in featuring wire-guidance to allow a weapons operator to guide the weapon and also use it as a form of sensor probe. This contrasts with most nations designs which are “fire-and-forget” weapons and hunt targets with their own onboard sensors.
The Swedish methodology allows a weapons operator to both guide the torpedo after launch and for the sensors of both the weapon and the launch platform to supplement each other. This technique is far preferable in difficult littoral underwater conditions such as those found in the Baltic Sea. However, Saab state that their SLWT is also perfectly adapted to deep-water ASW missions as well.
Foreign orders have already been secured with the Finnish Navy placing an order for the SLWT in January 2018. The Finnish Navy will operate the system on-board the upgraded Hamina-class vessels as well as the new Pohjanmaa-class corvettes of the Squadron 2020 Programme. Service deliveries are expected in 2022.