Report & Analysis

A Look at Major HWTs & LWTs in NATO Countries & Ongoing Torpedo Programs in Turkey

The first true torpedo was invented in 1866 by British engineer Robert WHITEHEAD, based on the ideas of Austrian Navy officer Johann LUPIS. The word `torpedo` (derived from the word `torpere,` which means `to stun` in Latin), was created in 1800 by the American inventor Robert FULTON, who also invented the first steam-powered ship.

Date: Issue 100 - August 2020

Since their first use during the Russo-Turkish War of 1877-78, torpedoes have proven to be one of the most effective and lethal naval weapons. During the war, (also referred to as the ‘War of 93,’ named for the year 1293 in the Islamic calendar) the 381mm diameter Whitehead Torpedo, launched at a distance of about 65m from a torpedo boat under the command of Russian Vice Admiral Stepan Osipovich MAKAROV in January 1878, sank the armed cargo ship ‘İntibah,’ which was anchored in Batumi Port. Thus, İntibah went down in history as the first ship sunk by a self-propelled torpedo. Even the emergence of Anti-Ship Guided Missiles (ASMs) could not eliminate the role and importance of torpedoes. 

Torpedoes can be used for both offensive and defensive purposes. Today, torpedoes are the primary weapon system of both nuclear and conventional (diesel/electric) and Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) type submarines and some fast attack crafts. Torpedoes are also carried by numerous surface vessels, Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Helicopters to defend against enemy submarines. In the past, torpedoes were not highly accurate weapons, and their maneuverability was limited. Therefore, multiple torpedoes had to be launched to score a single hit on the target. However, with the advancement of technology, torpedoes have undergone a significant transformation in the last two decades. Today, a single wire/fiber optic guided, or fully autonomous torpedo launched by a skilled operator can achieve at least a 95% hit probability.