A new torpedo design being developed under the Artémis program, which aims to equip all French Navy nuclear submarines with new high-performance heavyweight torpedoes, has propelled into its final development phase with the recent completion of a successful round of test firing off the Mediterranean coast.
The F21 torpedo is being developed by European naval defense and marine renewable energies technology company DCNS, who performed the qualification firing in a secured maritime area under the authority of program leader Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French Government Defense procurement and technology agency responsible for the program management, development and purchase of weapon systems for the French military.
The F21 heavyweight torpedo was designed to neutralize enemy vessels and submarines. With a range in excess of 50km and a speed greater than 50 knots, the F21 is foreseen for operation not only in deep waters but above all in coastal areas with high levels of noise and dense shipping. Thanks to its significant computing power that allows for exceptional real-time processing capacities, the F21 torpedo benefits from an advanced mission system and extended autonomy. These technical characteristics considerably widen its possibilities for tactical use with an unequalled target discrimination capacity, including in very challenging environments.
As the only new heavyweight torpedo development in the world, the F21 torpedo has characteristics significantly superior to all other heavyweight torpedoes currently in service, according to DCNS. Beyond its exceptional performance levels, its on-board tactical intelligence makes this torpedo a precursor for what tomorrow's underwater drones could be, the developer said.
- Diameter: 533mm
- Length: 6,000mm
- Weight: 1.3 metric tons
- Continuously variable speed: greater than 50 knots
- Autonomy: about 1 hour
- Distance: 50km
- Operational depth: from less than 10m to greater than 500m
DCNS said the latest test firing was preceded by about 20 industrial sea trials on prototypes from DCNS's test vessel Pégase and COMEX's vessel JANUS, as well as from submarines.
“The firing was performed in accordance with the test procedure and communications with the torpedo were operational throughout the exercise,” said Artémis Program Director for DCNS, Franck Dostal. “The data recorded in real time could retrace the entire mission, thus validating the achievement of all the goals.”
According to the DCNS, this latest torpedo testing builds in particular on firings since the end of 2016, and with the completion of these milestones, the Artémis program has now entered its final development stage.
DCNS’ contract includes the development and delivery of about 100 F21 torpedoes and their integration into all French submarines, which will begin gradually starting in 2018.
The Brazilian Navy has also elected to equip its submarines with the F21.