The Sting Ray is a lightweight, air-launched, electrically-powered, homing torpedo, it was carried by the Nimrod Aircraft for use against either deep ocean or coastal water submarine targets. It is powered by a seawater battery, and combines low-noise and excellent manoeuvrability with a high-speed attack capability. The Sting Ray is an autonomous weapon which, having received pre-launch, search pattern information from the launch aircraft, uses its active sonar and tactical software to search for, localise and attack its submarine target. The Sting Ray’s in-built, tactical software enables it to deal with complex countermeasure defence scenarios used by its target.
After being launched, the torpedo descends by parachute until it enters the water. The torpedo then activates its propulsion system, which discards the parachute and carries out an immediate check to determine the water depth. If the water is shallow, the torpedo runs at a fixed height following the contours of the sea bed. The torpedo’s on-board computer, which controls the acoustics and the homing and attack profile, carries out a search pattern based upon the pre-launch inputs of safety ceiling, initial search depth, magnetic variation and torpedo heading, until the target has been acquired. The target is classified and identified from the return signals and, once acquired, the torpedo starts homing onto it. The torpedo is able to determine the target’s speed, heading and depth, thus enabling the weapon to select the best attack-profile and optimum impact angle to ensure the torpedo’s shaped charge works to maximum effect when penetrating a submarine’s hull. Should the Sting Ray miss its target, it has the ability to turn and home in again for another attack. The current version of the Sting Ray torpedo, designated Mod 0, is receiving a major performance upgrade. The new version will enter service with the RAF as Mod 1.