Torpedoes (also called "missiles" or (in specific cases) "nukes"), are powerful self-propelled weapons with an explosive warhead designed to detonate either on contact with its target or in proximity to it. They are the standard primary armament on all warships. They acquired this name based on marine-based submarines of an earlier era, but they are really just Missiles.
Torpedoes are long-range, guided missile delivery systems that can be fitted with conventional explosives, plasma bombs (which melt armor and damage systems), or nuclear warheads. They can accelerate far faster than a ship, are hard to dodge and cause devastating damage to a ship on contact.
Torpedoes have a minimum range (they are ineffective within a short distance from the launcher) so they are usually launched first in an engagement.
As is seen with the Canterbury's destruction, Torpedoes can have the side-effect of turning the "splashed" ship into a destructive field of moving debris, posing a further threat to any other ship in the immediate area. However, torpedoes are vulnerable to Point Defense Cannons (PDCs), which can intercept them before closing to effective range. This is countered by firing them in numbers to overwhelm the PDCs on an enemy ship.
When James Holden and several crewmates entered the Scopuli to investigate what happened to the ship, a Protogen stealth ship appeared and fired two nuclear torpedoes. While Holden thought at first that the missiles were intended for his group, he realized too late that they were meant for the Canterbury. The massive ship was disintegrated in the blast, killing everyone onboard and turning the hulk into a deadly cloud of flying debris that nearly killed Holden and everyone else on the Knight shuttle.
MCRN Donnager, when engaging a squadron of Stealth Ships, fired a swarm of torpedoes that took out one of the six assailants. The remaining five attackers had already fired their own plasma torpedoes, at least two of which impacted and damaged the Donnager's main drive. The two sides then entered the minimum range for torpedoes, finished the battle with Railguns and PDCs, and Donnager was boarded.
During the Battle of Thoth Station, the Stealth Ship guarding the Protogen research facility fired two torpedoes at the oncoming Guy Molinari. Rocinante, which was flying escort, shot down both torpedoes with her PDCs and moved in to engage in CQB.
Following the outbreak of the Protomolecule on the Phoebe research station and the impending arrival of the UNN Nathan Hale, the MCRN Scirocco bombarded Phoebe with three nuclear torpedoes, turning the small ice moon into a cloud of fine debris that then fell into Saturn's gravity. While containing the outbreak and preventing the research station from falling into enemy hands, the firing of the nukes heightened the tension between the UN and MCR which had already been near the boiling point for a long time.
- A true torpedo is currently defined as "a cigar-shaped self-propelled underwater missile designed to be fired from a ship or submarine or dropped into the water from an aircraft and to explode on reaching a target."
- Most ships in the Expanse deploy torpedoes by expelling them from a tube or silo at the front of the ship. Stealth ships, however, open a hatch and briefly deploy them out the starboard side before they engage their target. This is likely as conventional torpedo holes would compromise the stealth design.