Russian nuclear submarines to get even deadlier with the newer 533-mm UET-1 Ichthyosaurus electric-powered torpedoes

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India, portal publishing news and current affairs. He holds an M.B.A in International Business from the Maharishi University of Management, Iowa, USA. Twitter: @chackojoseph *views are Personal.

Russia plans to equip the nuclear-powered submarines with the latest UET-1 Ichthyosaurus electric-powered torpedoes will begin after the diesel-electric submarines of the Varshavyanka (project 636.3) and Lada (project 677) types.

UET-1 is a new universal electric torpedo of 533 mm calibre with improved combat and technical characteristics.

The 533-mm UET-1 torpedo was developed by Dagestan based Dagdizel Plant JSC (Kaspiysk) to replace the outdated USET-80 homing electric torpedo. The new torpedo has a maximum range of 25 km and a max speed of 50 knots. The range of the homing controller from the submarine is 3.4km. The torpedo can detect ships with a wake indication time of 500 seconds and adjust their speed. 

The UET-1 is a 533 mm homing electric torpedo designed for submarines. Russian officials say that new components and solutions have led to reduced product length. Apparently, the product is similar to other electric torpedoes in its scheme. 

The torpedo is equipped with a brushless electric motor as per the Russian media. Unlike the engines of older torpedoes, such a power plant does not face the problem of overheating during movement and does not create interference that affects the electronics of the torpedo. The engine is connected to the propeller without an intermediate gearbox. The battery is not specified.

The torpedo features a hydroacoustic homing system increasing the detection range compared to previous developments. The parameters are not yet known. The system provides search and guidance for underwater and surface targets and can also detect the wake. The UET-1 torpedo provides only homing; there is no possibility of remote control from the carrier.

ET-1E for exports has a range of 25 km. 

UET-1 finds surface ships, like all similar ammunition, along the wake, periodically sending upward hydroacoustic pulses. When the reflected impulse changes, the system commands the steering controls. The torpedo pursues the target, moving in a zigzag. Under the bottom of the attacked ship, a magnetic fuse is triggered.

Code “Ichthyosaurus”

The existence of the UET-1E torpedo was first reported in 2017. At the International Naval exhibition, the Dagdiesel plant (part of the Sea Underwater Weapons – Gidropribor concern from the Tactical Missiles Corporation) presented an export version of the UET-1E torpedo, created as part of the project with the code name “Ichthyosaurus”. The media reported that the development of new torpedoes would be completed before the end of the year. After that, it was planned to conduct the remaining tests and prepare for mass production. 

UET-1 Ichthyosaurus electric-powered torpedo

In February 2018, the Main Directorate of Armaments of the Russian Army announced that it had placed an order to produce UET-1 torpedoes. In accordance with the new contract, Dagdiesel is to manufacture and transfer 73 units to the Navy. The value of the contract amounted to 7.2 billion rubles. The reports stated the contractor should complete the preparation of production facilities by 2018, and in 2019 the customer expects the first torpedoes. The final batch is to be delivered in 2023.

The Main Armaments Directorate, taking into account the needs of the Navy, was ready to consider the possibility of increasing the number of orders. The production plant had to establish full-scale production at the required pace, but the required volume of production and the required number of torpedoes were not specified.

Torpedo in the Russian Navy

Probably, the manufacture of the first batch of torpedoes under the new contract did not take much time. In the summer of 2018, curious photographs from Sevastopol dated at the end of May came into the public domain. They captured the process of loading torpedoes aboard the diesel-electric submarine “Novorossiysk” pr. 636.3. The dimensions and contours of the products concluded that these were the latest UET-1.

In February 2020, the JSC Tactical Missiles Corporation (KTRV) officials spoke about the successful completion of state tests of several promising types of weapons, including a new torpedo. At the time of the release of this information, the processing of the necessary documentation for subsequent adoption into service was underway. The new torpedo type was not specified.

Loading operations, presumably UET-1 Ichthyosaurus, from a different angle. Photo Sevastopol
Loading operations, presumably UET-1 Ichthyosaurus, from a different angle. Photo Sevastopol

In early 2021, KTRV again commented on the details of ongoing work. The company announced the completion of state tests and indicated that the first serial production of the new weapons entered service with the fleet. On June 21, RIA Novosti said that the UET-1 had entered service with the submarine forces of the Navy.

USET-80 

USET-80 was developed at the Central Research Institute Gidropribor in 1980, about 40 years ago. The outdated torpedoes had no replacements for a long time. USET-80 has weak characteristics: cruising range – 18 km, speed – 45 knots (towards the end, it drops to 42 knots). The target acquisition range of the torpedo homing system is 1.5 km.

A record of sorts, the torpedo could reach a depth of 1000 meters to hit the target when no submarines could travel below the mark of 300-400 meters. 

The export designation was TE2, and no country bought it. The homing system was copied from the American Mk46 mod 1 torpedo of the early 60s and the battery from the Mk44 torpedo of the late 50s. The remote system (by wire) was copied from Western torpedoes of the mid-60s.

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