PICTURE: BAE Nimrod MRA4 reconnaissance aircraft passes torpedo drop test

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BAE Systems' Nimrod MRA4 has successfully released the Sting Ray torpedo for the first time, during the 75th flight of development aircraft PA02.

 
 © BAE Systems
MRA4 is due to enter service in 2010 armed with Sting Ray torpedoes

The MRA4's stores release system is a radical redesign compared with that of the Nimrod MR2, to ensure weapons are programmed and released correctly.

The MRA4 has the potential to carry an extensive range of weapons and equipment in the bomb bay including the Sting Ray, a fully programmable lightweight anti-submarine torpedo that can detect and track a target using its own sonar.

 
 

Three MRA4 development aircraft have been built and are undergoing intensive flight-testing. PA02 made its first flight in December 2004 and the type is scheduled to enter service in 2010.

Joe Harland, managing director of BAE Systems' Large Aircraft business, says: "The MRA4 represents a step-change in maritime reconnaissance capability."