IMDEX 2023 – Rafael unveils a new surface vessel integrated torpedo defence system

Luca Peruzzi

Leveraging on existing products, at IMDEX Rafael of Israel unveiled its new integrated torpedo defence system that includes soft and hard-kill solutions

At IMDEX 2023 in Singapore, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and its subsidiary DSIT Solutions unveiled a new multi-layered integrated torpedo defence system (TDS) for ships, centred on the new family of hull-mounted sonars and a new version of the Torbuster hard-kill torpedo countermeasure system launched by surface platforms and called Torbuster SP (Surface Protection), alongside soft-kill Scutter Mk 3 decoys.

The surface-launched version of the hard-kill Torbuster countermeasure, which was originally developed for submarine applications, was conceived to prevent re-attacks of torpedoes that has been initially seduced by expandable decoys launched from ships. The Torbuster SP can operate in shallow as well as deep water scenarios, and is effective against lightweight and heavyweight active, passive and wake-homing guided torpedoes, claims the Israeli company. The system also provides fast reaction time, and is effective against short-range attacks. The Israeli company has revealed to EDR On-Line that the system will be involved in its first sea trials in the incoming months.

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The Torbuster SP is based on development activities for the original submarine-launched torpedo countermeasure and the acoustic know-how accumulated by the DSIT subsidiary with the divers and underwater vehicles detection systems. The Torbuster is a TRL 9 military-off-the-shelf solution which was subjected to a real scenario test performed at sea with the relevant platforms, or SAT (Sea Acceptance Test), and serially produced based on an Israeli Navy requirement .

The new SP version matches the front section with the hydrophones and insensitive munition warhead of the submarine-launched version responding to STANAG 4439, with a back-end of reduced diameter to accommodate the electronics section and propelling system in order to be pneumatically launched from a standard 130 mm decoy launchers.

Launched in the water at a distance necessary and safe for the platform to conduct the hard-kill engagement, the decoy turns vertical to offer the better possible coverage for the hydrophones in the nose. Once in position, the Torbuster SP employs either generic or tailored acoustic signals to lure an incoming torpedo away from the mother platform. According to Rafael, the system employs reactive and seducing techniques developed for the latest generation of Scutter soft-kill decoys.

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Once the hard-kill decoy has attracted the torpedo which homes on it, thanks to its on-board hydrophone it senses the incoming weapon and detonates its warhead, neutralising the underwater weapon. With a weight of about 40 kg per unit and a length of about 1.7 meters, the Torbuster SP largest diameter of about 200 mm is found at the warhead section. It can reach and operate at depth exceeding 350 meters. The dedicated TDS console allows the operator to monitor the status of all Torbuster units deployed.

In addition to the SP hard-kill solution, the system can also deploy the 3rd generation or Scutter Mk 3 reactive vessel-launched torpedo decoy that hovers at a pre-programmed depth and remains active for up to 10 minutes, transmitting a tailored or generic response that imitates various ship parameters.

The incoming torpedoes are detected by the hull mounted DSIT Solutions BlackFish/MonkFish sonar that also provides detection, tracking, classification, and alert. Both hull mounted sonars (HMS) have already found international success, including NATO customers, and both are offered as an optional HMS for Reshef-class corvettes.

A mission suite computer module employing advanced signal processing and algorithms provides accurate detection with negligible false alarms, as well as simultaneous tracking and processing of multiple targets. The easy-to-operate system delivers ultra-fast torpedo classification in all system operational modes, fully automatic, semi-automatic, and manual.

Overcoming the limitations of current passive sonar solutions, the system operates in active, passive and intercept modes, delivering continuous automatic detection, classification and alert capabilities for any approaching torpedo, in all weather and sea conditions, while the ship is underway. The modular design enables the use of a range of sea-proven sensors, while state-of-the-art HMI and GUI features allow full integration with any Combat Management System (CMS) or TDS.

Images and photos courtesy Rafael