Rafael is soon to complete development on the Torbuster – an underwater interception missile system designed to actively defend submarines against vessel- and helicopter-launched torpedoes.
Torpedoes are a deadly threat to submarines. For twenty-five years Rafael has been manufacturing the Scutter - a "reactive expendable acoustic torpedo decoy". The system launches a signal-transmitting decoy that imitates the signals a submarine emits, thereby attracting the incoming torpedo, whose homing device is based on acoustic identification. Unlike the Scutter that operates according to the "soft kill" principle (altering the sensory system of the approaching threat and diverting its course), the Torbuster is considered the fourth generation of active interceptors, capable of the "hard kill". It attacks the incoming torpedo: hitting and destroying it in the water.
The new defense system is designed to intercept slower-moving torpedoes than in the past, including threats with electronic counter-countermeasures, (ECCMs) capable of outfoxing third generation acoustic diversion decoys. Like its predecessors, Torbuster includes acoustic deception, but goes one step further. Not satisfied with "merely attracting" the incoming torpedo, it lures the threatening missile onto its trail then triggers its own attack mechanism. The moment the defense system identifies a torpedo in its vicinity, it activates its warhead that explodes in the water and completely neutralizes the threat.
The Torbuster system is expected to be operational sometime in 2011. Rafael has already offered the system to a number of navies, including the Australian Navy. Marketing will begin once the last wrinkles in its operational system are ironed out – which is expected in the very near future.