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Portugal's Black Shark torpedoes upgraded in €7 million order

submarinePortugal’s Navy's torpedo stock is to have an upgrade in a deal with Leonardo Defence Systems.

In an order dated August 10, 2017, just published in Diário da República, Defence Minister José Azeredo Lopes authorised spending a maximum of €7.07 million for "the upgrading of the Black Shark-type combat torpedoes for the Trident-class submarines, in order to allow the continuation and increase of the operability and use of submarine defences."

The Defence Minister authorised the hiring of Leonardo Defence Systems for the maintenance of the torpedoes. The expenditure will be spread over three years, with €2.4 million spent this year, €682,000 in 2018 and a final instalment of €4 million in 2019.

Black Shark is a heavyweight, 6.3 metre torpedo developed by Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei S.p.A. of Italy and in service since 2004.

The minister noted that "it is essential to modernise in order to continue the programme of launching torpedoes on exercise and to maintain the training of the crews in the operation of this weapon, thus maintaining our operational capacity where the torpedoes are used."

The Trident-class submarines were ordered by the government in 1998 with a contract finally being signed in 2004. The two submarines were delivered in 2009 and 2010 amid rumours that key officials in the armed forces and government had been bribed by the German company Ferrostaal, to ensure that German Submarine Consortium - of which it was a part - was chosen to supply the order worth €880 million.

The stock of 24 torpedoes cost the government €42 million in 2005, curiously these weapons arrived long before the submarines.

Two managers at Ferrostaal were convicted of paying bribes but in Portugal, there was deemed not to be sufficient evidence to take anyone to court, so the investigation simply was dropped, much to the relief of Paulo Portas, who had been the Defence Minister at the time of the acquisitions and long suspected of profiting from the deal.

The torpedo upgrade involves changing the batteries and fiddling with the electronics to extend their life by at least ten years.




Leonardo S.p.A., formerly Leonardo-Finmeccanica and Finmeccanica, is an Italian global high-tech company and one of the key players in aerospace, defence and security. Headquartered in Rome, the company has 180 sites worldwide. The company is partially owned by the Italian government through the Ministry of Economy and Finance, which holds 30.2% of the company's shares and is its largest shareholder.

Leonardo is active in the design, development and production of naval artillery, armoured vehicles and underwater systems. In the Electronics, Defence and Security Systems sector, Leonardo operates through its US subsidiary DRS Technologies and the joint venture MBDA (37.5% BAE Systems, 37.5% Airbus Group and 25% Leonardo) that produces missiles and missile systems.

The Black Shark torpedo offers fibre optic wire for increased bandwidth and signal processing ability compared to copper wire guided torpedo types. The sonar capability include non-doppler shifted target discrimination and multi-frequency capability that features advanced spatial and angular analysis abilities.

The design goal for the torpedo was 300% improvement of passive acquisition and 200% active acquisition with its sonar system. The brushless motor design coupled with the aluminum-silver oxide (Al-AgO) battery gives the system a top speed 50+ knot, and a range of 50 km, performance envelope.  

Like all other battery powered HWTs, the battery power system does not suffer the loss of performance of Otto fuel II types at greater depths since there is no exhaust to deal with at greater pressures. The result is a 150% improvement in speed and 200% in torpedo endurance.



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+3 #7 Neil M 2017-09-22 21:18
Portugal is a member of the United Nations and would therefore be required to monitor the Western Seaboard of Europe.
Submarines loaded with torpedoes will be sending the message loud and clear... keep your distance from this part of Europe.
-5 #6 Jack Reacher 2017-09-22 19:43
After the first immersion the Black Shark Torpedo will be in the dry dock undergoing duct tape repairs. And due to the expense of spares and software upgrades one just knows these Torpedos will be a fair ground attraction in Albufeira. Força Portugal.
-6 #5 Historyman 2017-09-22 19:00
Portugal should look beyond its attempts to strangle the UK via the German submarine blockades during WW1 and WW2 - denying their oldest ally, the UK, use of the Azores for anti-submarine patrols.
Thinking today that the UK is weakened and distracted by Brexit; Heathrow airport extension or the direction of the High Speed Rail Link should not mislead Portugal into yet another attempt to take down the UK.
The Royal Navy will not rely today on Inish'Allah / Wind of God to scatter the 1588 attack by the Portuguese Armada on us. Today's British Army squaddy carries the firepower of 100 British soldiers who cleared the French from Portugal in the early 1800's. Even after the Portuguese Government had declared war on the UK and Portugal's Army had joined Napoleon's Army for the rest of the conflict!
And with 130,000 Portuguese immediately interned as enemy aliens cutting off the tens of millions of euros repatriated from the UK annually, there is an obvious cost to Portugal using its torpedoes on us. How will they pay for them?
Anyway - if Portugal did start yet again on the UK - the US would step in. It has done before and this time it would be a squabble between two NATO members!
-4 #4 Jordan 2017-09-22 14:59
Countries like Portugal and Greece march to a different drum beat to the more developed EU when dealing with bribery. It was striking that Germans can be convicted of bribery and absolutely none of the bribed Portuguese in the Portas subs non-enquiry! Greece is now starting to dig into their equally corrupt German Arms Deals as payback for WW2 atrocities but we assume Portugal's keeping its 'model schoolboy' hat on.

The issue now is whether we next hear of a Tancos Munitions storage base story via the foreign Press (heavens forbid Portugal announcing it!) that the 1 1/2 ton torpedoes did arrive and have since gone missing. Or maybe never arrived and, in the absence of any weak enough to pick on enemy nowadays, no Portuguese noticed their non-arrival. However suspicion has since fallen on the Italian Mafia, who we read in recent stories have been pilfering armaments from sunken WW2 wrecks.

-2 #3 Peter Booker 2017-09-22 08:23
There is no point in having submarines without torpedoes. I question the need of a country like Portugal to own submarines.
0 #2 Ed 2017-09-22 06:59
Quoting dw:
What on earth is Portugal´s navy going to be using these for? Presumably the 13 year old weapons are surplus and some other country is upgrading. Sounds like corporate welfare for arms manufacturers.

"Black Shark is a heavyweight, 6.3 metre torpedo developed by Whitehead Sistemi Subacquei S.p.A. of Italy and in service since 2004" these have been produced and sold since 2004 so we hope the ones being bought for the Portuguese Navy are hot off the production line...
-1 #1 dw 2017-09-21 23:49
What on earth is Portugal´s navy going to be using these for? Presumably the 13 year old weapons are surplus and some other country is upgrading. Sounds like corporate welfare for arms manufacturers.

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