The Navy's Advanced Lightweight Torpedo:

A New Weapon That Faces Many Development Challenges

C-MASAD-81-3: Published: Feb 18, 1981. Publicly Released: Feb 18, 1981.

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GAO reviewed the Advanced Lightweight Torpedo (ALWT), the Navy's newest antisubmarine warfare weapon. ALWT is intended as the replacement for the Navy's current lightweight torpedo, the MK-46.

ALWT is intended to address the advancing Soviet submarine threat and to overcome deficiencies in current lightweight torpedoes. However, the severity of the Soviet threat has increased significantly since the ALWT requirement was issued, particularly in the areas of speed and capability. Thus, the advanced development baseline design may require enhancement. Navy analysis has shown that there is no viable alternative to developing a new lightweight torpedo. Early in advanced development, cost overruns were encountered by contractors which prompted: (1) deleting warhead development as a contractor responsibility; (2) eliminating documentation in weapon system integration, design to cost, life-cycle cost, and reliability and maintainability; and (3) reducing planned subsystem and system-level testing. A selected acquisition report which advises Congress on the status of the cost, schedule, and performance for ALWT will probably not be prepared until 1983. The ALWT warhead technology must still be developed and proven in the ALWT application. Since ALWT is likely to be longer and significantly heavier than the MK-46 torpedo, modifications to a variety of surface ship and aircraft launch platforms will be required. Availability of a new advanced torpedo target system, currently under development, is critical for ALWT testing. Navy development to date generally compares favorably with an Office of Management and Budget Circular's principles. GAO believes that, should ALWT perform as planned, it will provide a valuable addition to the Navy's antisubmarine warfare capability.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Matter: Congress should direct the Secretary of Defense to periodically provide it with an assessment of the ALWT technical and programmatic issues and plans for dealing with them.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status:

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: The Secretary of Defense should direct the Navy to (1) reexamine the wisdom of the reductions in reliability, maintainability, platform integration, and testing that have resulted from changes in contract documentation requirements in light of their potential future effect on the program; and (2) begin preparing a selected acquisition report now for the program to help insure adequate attention to cost, schedule, and performance goals.

    Agency Affected: Department of Defense


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