The Mk 48 torpedo is designed to be launched from submarine torpedo tubes. The weapon is carried by all U.S. Navy submarines, including Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines and Seawolf-, Los Angeles-, and Virginia-class attack submarines. The torpedoes can be guided from a submarine by wires attached to the torpedo. They can also use their own active or passive sensors to execute programmed target search, acquisition, and attack procedures. The torpedo is designed to detonate under the keel of a surface ship, breaking the ship's back and destroying its structural integrity. In the event of a miss, it can circle back for another attempt.
The MK 48 ADCAP Mod 6 torpedo combines two significant enhancements: one in guidance and control (G&C Mod), and the other in the torpedo propulsion unit (TPU Mod). The G&C Mod improves the acoustic receiver, replaces the guidance-and-control hardware with updated technology, increases memory, and improves processor throughput to handle the expanded software demands required to improve torpedo performance against evolving threats. The TPU Mod provides a significant reduction in torpedo radiated-noise signatures. The Mod 6 is also the first torpedo that can utilize the Torpedo Downloader System (TD) which can provide rapid software updates to embarked weapons, allowing the submarine to deploy with the most up-to-date software variant.
The Mk 48 ADCAP Mod 7 Common Broadband Advanced Sonar System (CBASS) is optimized for usage in both deep and littoral waters and has advanced counter-countermeasure capabilities. It is the result of a Joint Development Program with the Royal Australian Navy.