BAE Systems dropped an inert Sting Ray lightweight torpedo Mod 2 configured weapon from a T-600 unmanned aerial vehicle during a NATO exercise last year (BAE Systems)

BELFAST — The UK Ministry of Defence has issued BAE Systems a four-year Sting Ray Mid Life Upgrade (SRMLU) Assessment Phase (AP) contract, valued at £60.1 million ($76 million), to fund development of the new Sting Ray Mod 2 lightweight torpedo design.

In a Monday tender notice, London said the contract had been awarded on June 28 and covers the “Assessment Phase for the upgrade of the current, in service UK Ministry of Defence Lightweight Torpedo.”

Besides the timeframe of the contract, London failed to share additional details of the deal. BAE Systems deferred comment to the UK MoD when asked about it.

The Sting Ray Mod 1 torpedo is currently in service with the UK Royal Navy, Royal Air Force and the Norwegian Armed Forces. Mainly used for anti-submarine warfare, and air-launched from frigates, helicopters or maritime patrol aircraft, it is capable of defeating “threats of fast, deep-diving, double-hulled submarines operating in shallow littoral waters,” according to BAE company literature.

The Mod 1 weapon also features an acoustic homing system, a “highly accurate” navigation system and can “detect, classify and attack targets autonomously,” according to the manufacturer.

In September, BAE and Malloy Aeronautics (a BAE-owned drone manufacturer) successfully dropped an inert Sting Ray Mod 2 torpedo from a T-600 unmanned aerial system during a NATO exercise in Portugal.

At the time, BAE noted that development of the upgraded torpedo is based around better “weapon effectiveness once deployed” and “increasing the ways” in which it can be deployed, with a central focus on expanding platform interfaces for launch, including drones.

New investment in the Mod 2 design is in keeping with a 10-year Sting Ray MLU program forecast [PDF] valued by the MoD at a maximum of £1 billion ($1.3 billion) out to 2032.

Like other weapon acquisitions, development of the Mod 2 could be impacted by the UK’s change of government, as opinion polls indicate that the Labour Party will take office once votes from Thursday’s general election are tallied. Labour has committed to deliver a new strategic defense review within one year of taking over from the Conservatives.

The Royal Navy was approached for comment but did not respond by press time.