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Friday, February 19, 2010

Weapons Launch System for Spanish S-80 Submarines Achieves Milestone

Babcock International has completed delivery, on-schedule, of all six of the internal slide valve lengths for the Weapon Handling and Launch System (WHLS) for the first of the new Spanish S-80 submarines. These items (part of a new design for the S-80) are the first major elements of system hardware to be delivered, marking an important milestone in the project.

Babcock was contracted in 2006 to design and supply the WHLS (including four sets of weapon handling and discharge equipment, and a set of weapon embarkation equipment) for the four planned S-80 air-independent propulsion/diesel electric hybrid submarines, being built for the Spanish Navy (Armada EspaƱola) by Navantia. Babcock is undertaking the design, development, manufacture and supply of the WHLS, including mechanical, electrical, electronic, hydraulic, pneumatic and software systems, as well as defining the interfaces with the submarine structure, combat system and weapons.

The 2,400 tonne S-80 submarine, with a Lockheed Martin / Navantia Systems combat system core, will carry various weapon types including torpedoes, missiles and mines. These will be handled and launched by the WHLS, which features six torpedo tubes providing positive air discharge of multiple weapons using rotary air-turbine pumps. Key features of the WHLS equipment being supplied by Babcock include a modular system and semi-automated weapon handling and stowage system.

The six substantial slide valve lengths, now delivered for the first submarine, are a new design for the S-80, bringing a number of benefits. These items provide the path for the water into the torpedo tube to allow the discharge system to launch the weapon, and must be capable of providing a pressure-tight boundary when in the shut position. The valve is internal to the tube body (where on other classes the valve is external to the body), facilitating an advantageous torpedo tube arrangement, allowing the tubes to be mounted closer together in smaller conventional submarine types. A further key benefit is a lower initial acquisition cost and reduced through-life cost due to simplified maintenance requirements.

Following contract award, and the design phase of the WHLS which is now approaching completion, manufacture and delivery of the slide valves marks the start of the hardware supply phase for the first of class submarine. Further hardware for the discharge equipment will include air turbine pumps; inboard lengths; bow shutters and intermediate guides; flood and drain equipment; firing air equipment; torpedo tube hydraulics; launch control system; and pressure vent control system; plus weapon stowage, traversing and loading; centre line lift; embarkation equipment; and weapon handling control system for the weapon handling element. The contract is scheduled for completion in 2014.

Commenting on the first major hardware delivery, Babcock’s Systems & Equipment Submarine Director Tim Pocock said: “Delivery of the slide valves for the first boat, on-schedule, is a significant milestone in the programme as we transition from system design, which has been on-going over some three years, to the manufacture and delivery phase. This is representative of the strong progress being made.”

Jeff Lewis, Babcock's Systems and Equipment Director commented: "The development of the S-80 WHLS provides Babcock's UK and overseas customers with the opportunity to benefit from an enhanced equipment offering to meet all their future needs." (source Defpro)