Northrop Grumman has been awarded a $18.6 million contract for the production of MK54 Mod 0 lightweight torpedo array kits for the US Navy and UK.

The contract also includes production support material, and related engineering and hardware repair services for upgrade of Navy LWTs, the US Department of Defense said in a statement Tuesday.

It was confirmed last year that British P-8 Poseidon aircraft will operate with American rather than British weapons for the time being.

The move has been welcomed by many as the cost of bringing the aircraft into service in the UK will now be lower, it is fully expected that British weapons will eventually be integrated in the future.

The contract announcement reads as follows:

“Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Annapolis, Maryland, is being awarded an $18,608,828 firm-fixed-price and cost-plus-fixed-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N00024-13-C-6412) to exercise option year four for the production of MK54 Mod 0 lightweight torpedo (LWT) array kits, production support material, and related engineering and hardware repair services for upgrade of Navy LWTs.

This contract combines purchases for the Navy (84 percent); the governments of the United Kingdom (11 percent); and Thailand (5 percent), under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program.  Work will be performed in Lititz, Pennsylvania (40 percent); Annapolis, Maryland (30 percent); and Salt Lake City, Utah (30 percent), and is expected to be completed by November 2020.  

Fiscal 2017 weapons procurement (Navy); and foreign military sales funding in the amount of $18,608,828 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. 

The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.”

This contract combines purchases for the US Navy, the governments of the United Kingdom and Thailand, under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) programme. Work is expected to be completed by November 2020.

In March 2016, the US State Department approved a proposed Foreign Military Sale to the UK for up to nine P-8 aircraft and associated support, at an estimated cost of $3.2 billion. The Royal Air Force plans to operate the P-8 with US weapons initially and possibly transition to British weapons later. It is unclear whether the UK will have access to future ground-surveillance capabilities being developed for the P-8 but many expect it will.

The UK government has revealed that a recent contract includes the purchase of unspecified US weapons, sonar buoys and “other consumables”.

According to the contract announcement released by the Department of Defense in the US:

“The Boeing Co., Seattle, Washington, is being awarded a $68,409,026 modification to a previously awarded advance acquisition contract (N00019-14-C-0067). 

This modification provides for long-lead parts and efforts associated with the manufacture of two full-rate production 4 Lot 8 P-8A Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft for the government of United Kingdom under the Foreign Military Sales program. 

Work will be performed in Seattle, Washington (82.6 percent); Baltimore, Maryland (6.2 percent); Greenlawn, New York (4.2 percent); North Amityville, New York (3.5 percent); and Cambridge, United Kingdom (3.5 percent), and is expected to be complete by July 2017.”

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So we will have a state of the art ASW aircraft armed with a bastardized Mk46/Mk50 hybrid torpedo that, if you believe the blurb mixes the best parts of the Mk 46 propulsion system and the homing section of the Mk 50. The problem is that there are no best parts of a Mk 46. Its 1960s technology and is very limited in its ability to attack fast subs. That’s why the UK developed the Mk 75 Sting Ray with its far higher speed and performance. I suppose the RAF bomb heads better dig out the old Otto Spill kits… Read more »

John Clark

We just have roll with whatever the US Navy are doing with this one, if we start trying to factor in our own weapons, then the cost will mushroom and the RAF will end up with 5 or 6 instead of 9….


Whilst I think this is the right decision overall and am of the opinion the US is treating us as a partner in these sales, it is interesting how this always seems one way traffic – if we have a far superior product which we do in several areas why can’t we get the Americans to purchase it through a BAE or LM subsidiary.

Anyway – we will have a plane that can discharge munitions – better than what we have now – so a win for me.

David Steeper

The last. Only ? Post war aircraft the US bought from us was the Canberra. It’s how the ‘special relationship’ works.

Stuart Willard


Stuart Willard



15% of every F-35.



Actually the Harrier in service today was completely redesigned by the Yanks
This resulted in a new wing, an elevated cockpit, a redesigned fuselage, one extra hardpoint per wing, upgraded version of the Pegasus,and other structural and aerodynamic refinements.

Alan Reid

Yeah, agreed Farouk – what we Brits called Harrier GR5/GR7/GR9 was essentially an American redesign.
Although before that work, it’s worth remembering that the USMC purchased about 100 examples of the original Harrier from Hawker Siddeley during the early Seventies – and called it the AV-8A.

David Steeper

Thanks guys must have had brainfreeze. Humble pie eaten.


There was also the original ‘Super Harrier’ program being jointly developed. Then when the MOD cancelled the UK side of the program the USMC scaled back the project to what became the AV8-B and later the UK variants.


The USA have Senators who petty much control the weapons spend. If its not home grown its off limits.
Wish our MP’s had a handle on our purchases of equipment but except for a handful they don’t know much.


We need to get armed P8 aircraft into service ASAP. We have been without dedicated MPA’s for too long. If this is what it takes it’s the only serious decision under current circumstances.
I would like to see a few UAV’s in the maritime patrol roll to back them up. Some work has already done on equipping some of the Watchkeepers with I-Master in the maritime roll and even arming them.
We have 20 odd watchkeepers in storage.
Other options are out there.


Yup, totally agree with John and Pacman.. I know 9 was the minimum the UK could of gone with, but at least the UK will have these capabilities again. So good news as far as im concerned.


Stingray would be better. But let’s get P-8 in RAF service asap and consign the Nimrod baggage to history.


There has been a fair amount of discussion around moving the cost of the Trident renewal i of the defence budget, as it used to be.
Would a more palatable option be to move the cost of the 9 Poseidon aircraft out and put it under Urgent operational requirement (increased Russian Submarine activity).

Along with the cost if the 5 type 31s and 3 Mars SSS (national shipbuilding strategy). Wouldn’t that give more breathing space and avoid cuts?


But the cost of UOR’s that get accepted into long term service gets taken out of the regular defence budget.


“it is fully expected that British weapons will eventually be integrated in the future”

It is? By who?

John Clark

I don’t see it happening Ron, who knows, perhaps one day… One way we can work towards a meaningful share in the program is this….. As the US Navy is initially integrating upgraded P3 weapon systems on the P8, (a wise move in my opinion) it leaves room for future weapon sets. This is were we should be involved with collaborative development of new weapon Systems that can be bought in quantity by the growing number of P8 operators, thus driving down costs. After all, it can be argued that we have a certain qualative edge in weapon system design,… Read more »


Nice thought.

Mr Bell

9 Poseidons is the minimum force level, ideally need a further batch of 6-9 more ordered.
I would not worry too much about the IOC of this aircraft eventually it will be upgraded and have uk weapons and sensors integrated. Much more important to get back into the MPA league. It was always nonsensical for an island nation of our size to have no MPA capability SDSR 2010 was all about crash programmes to cut costs, nothing strategic about it.


Thales have done some work on adapting the stored Watchkeepers for maritime patrol with a purposed designed radar.
This would be a cost effective way of backing up the P8’s.

John Clark

Even better the current ongoing work to integrate ASW systems and weapons on the Reaper.

The Reaper had the size and excellent endurance to be an absolute nightmare to a diesel Electric boat captain!

A P8 acting as mother hen to 3 or 4 Reapers could sanitise a huge area of ocean, a true force multiplier.