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Thursday, April 27, 2006


"Submariners say that all they need to do when faced with an incoming Shkval is make a slight change in depth."
By Joe Buff
In my recent ?Conventional Global Strike? I promised to address soon other ways in which U.S. Navy submarine armament systems are dramatically broadening in reach and lethality. But observing the errors of fact and occasional tone nearing hysteria in some media lately, I feel compelled to first address an ?enemy? weapon and put it in its proper place. This weapon has been called in print ?hellacious.? It's been described as a ?quantum leap? in the nature of naval warfare from this day forth -- a disruptive technology for which America is woefully unprepared. It's even been said that there's no physically possible friendly defense against it, and the target won't even realize the weapon is coming until it impacts and the target's crew are dead. Paints a scary picture, doesn't it? Yet none of these statements are true.
The weapon is the famous (or infamous) Russian VA-111 Shkval rocket torpedo and its variants, capable of speeds of more than 200 knots underwater. This speed is achieved by the rocket pushing the sharply tapering, flat-tipped torpedo so fast that a vacuum bubble forms around the body of the weapon, greatly reducing water resistance -- the process, for the uninitiated, is called supercavitation.


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