How difficult is it to develop a torpedo? Only a Handful countries know how to develop it.


The world’s first torpedo appeared in 1866 when the British R. Whitehead successfully developed a torpedo called “Whitehead,” but this torpedo could not control the direction and diving depth.

Torpedo development has undergone numerous modifications due to advances in science and technology, including the transition from cold engines to warm engines, from no self-guided to self-guided to wire-guided, from single anti-ship to anti-ship anti-submarine, from integrated with missiles, etc. And it has become a modern One of the Navy’s primary attack weapons.

Many countries in the world can build torpedoes. Still, only nine countries have independently developed and built modern heavy torpedoes without relying on the technology of other countries. these countries are the United States, Russia, China, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, Sweden, and Japan.

Torpedoes were initially intended to take the place of traditional artillery bombardment, dealing significant undersea damage to hostile warships.

In 1887, Russia sank the 2,000-ton Turkish communication ship “Intibach” with torpedoes, the first time in human history that torpedoes sank a warship. However, the torpedoes at that time were still equivalent to underwater artillery shells. 

They could only predict the trajectory of the torpedo in advance. Once launched, it would no longer be controlled whether it could hit or not, depending on luck.

Compared with 1887, modern torpedoes are the same as underwater missiles. They can not only automatically search for attack targets but also have certain concealment and are difficult to be discovered. 

They have a strong anti-jamming ability, high hit rate, and high explosive power. Launch methods have also diversified. They can be carried by submarines, surface ships, and aircraft. 

It is precise because torpedoes are becoming more and more advanced that only a handful of countries in the world can build torpedoes.

It is reported that there are many difficulties in developing modern torpedoes regarding guidance control systems, power systems, and integrated circuits. 

All components must be not only waterproof but also able to withstand high pressure underwater. 

Secondly, when the torpedo sails at high speed underwater, it will encounter strong resistance from the water current. To maintain the sailing speed and attitude, the torpedo must have a strong power system, which puts strict requirements on the torpedo’s engine. Very few countries have mastered this technology.

In addition, rare materials for the development of torpedoes are difficult to obtain. For example, the metal beryllium is required for a torpedo depth finder. Beryllium and its compounds are highly toxic and play an essential role in the fields of atomic energy, rockets, and missiles. 

The reserves of beryllium in the world are scarce, and only less than 80,000 tons have been proved. The process of refining beryllium is also very complicated, and it is a test of a country’s industrial capacity. Because of the lack of materials, many countries have no way, even if they want to develop torpedoes.

The most important thing is that the development of torpedoes requires a lot of costs, which are time-consuming and labor-intensive, and the benefits are minimal.

Therefore, many countries are reluctant to spend huge amounts of money on torpedoes, and buying them directly from other countries is more cost-effective. 

It is reported that the countries currently exporting torpedoes worldwide include the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy, etc.

 It can be said that the supply of goods is sufficient, and some countries with poor military strength need not worry about having no place to buy torpedoes.

Finally, I have to mention that even today, when anti-ship missile technology has been so developed, torpedoes are still the focus of the development of the US and Russia navies, especially heavy torpedoes with long range and great power, which can not only strike large Ships can also be used to attack ports and naval bases.