Russia’s State-of-the-Art Torpedo That ‘Changed the Rules of Maritime Warfare’


Russia’s State-of-the-Art Torpedo That ‘Changed the Rules of Maritime Warfare’

Russia will modernize its VA-111 Shkval supercavitating torpedo under the 2018-2025 state arms program. The torpedo can reach speeds of over 300 kph. Today, Russia is the only country to have in service such an advanced weapon.

“Work is underway. I think the parameters will be seriously improved. The program is part of the 2018-2025 state armaments program,” Boris Obnosov, head of Russia’s Tactical Missiles Corporation, said at the MAKS 2017 air show in July.

The Shkval missile-torpedo is a Soviet-designed aircraft carrier killer with unique capabilities. It entered service with the Soviet Navy in 1977. Propelled by a solid-fuel jet engine, the torpedo can travel at speeds of over 300 kph.

Developed in the 1970s, the Shkval was ahead of its time for decades. Its main advantage is a cruising speed of an outstanding 100 meters per second. Its disadvantages include a high level of noise, a limited operational range (up to 10 km) and an operational depth of only up to 30 meters.
The torpedo does not have a target seeker, relying solely on an inertial guidance system. Initially, it was armed with a 150-kiloton nuclear warhead, and then a conventional warhead was designed.

Now, the non-nuclear modification is going to be seriously upgraded in accordance with new challenges and operational requirements. Moreover, there has been increased interest for the Shkval in the global arms market.

“Torpedoes were always one the main defensive and attacking assets in maritime warfare. The Shkval outstands among others torpedoes because it packs a combination of some of the most advanced technologies ever. The torpedo came as a formidable weapon against American aircraft carrier groups and changed the rules of maritime warfare,” RIA Novosti contributor and political commentator Alexander Khrolenko wrote in an analytical piece.

The Shkval’s unprecedented speed is possible due to supercavitation. The torpedo travels in a cavitation pocket created by its specially designed nose cone and the expansion of hot engine gases. A gas bubble envelops the torpedo, minimizing its contact with water and significantly reducing water drag.

Cavitation, however, creates a problem for maneuvering. When a torpedo changes its direction it body moves out of its cavitation pocket, reducing its speed due to water drag. The Shkval’s cavitating nose cone turns when the torpedo changes direction, keeping it in a gas bubble while maneuvering. The torpedo steers using four fins and the nose cone.

“Usually, torpedoes may be sensitive to changes in environmental conditions, including water temperature and water density at various depths. The development of the Shkval required scrupulous research works in different scientific fields and the result was a real breakthrough in hydrodynamics. The Shkval puts Russia at least four decades ahead of its rivals. Today, such a weapon is mass-produced only in Russia,” Khrolenko pointed out.

For decades, the Shkval has been second to none among other torpedoes. In 2005, Germany said it had completed the development of the Barracuda missile-torpedo capable of reaching the same speeds. However, the torpedo has not yet been put into mass production. The US has been making similar efforts since 1997, but no working prototype has been presented yet.

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  1. The US has devlopment issues? Well the money’s in the research not the cure. Right? Ask the dead cancer victims.
    Either we keep secrets very well, or we are as corrupt as I think we are.

  2. The definition of Engineering is the use of the lreast effort (work) and the least material (cost) to produce the intended results.
    Russians have proved they are great engineers. The Industrial Miitary Cabal has also proven to be also great engineers. It spends very little (a million in bribes) to produce the intended results (a billion in profit). It is hard watching this happening. So how many aircraft carrier killer weapons are available?

  3. It’s one of those inventions that makes you say “How stupid to have not thought of this sooner”. some of the burning gases are released from holes in the tip, so the torpedo is actually flying through a bubble of gas instead of pushing though water.

    Iran has a copy in full production and deployed in the Persian Gulf on small fast vessels and mini submarines. All of the American fleet in the Gulf is vulnerable to it and could be sent to the bottom in a matter of hours. At 360km per hour there really is no way to evade it, so tracking the target is unnecessary — just aim and fire. With no guidance system, it’s a cheap and easy to mass-produce game-changer that can be deployed in large quantities and fired from any platform that can handle a weapon weighing 1 ton — fast attack boat, drone boat, mini submarine, aircraft, helicopter, whatever.

    The Iranian version is called the Hoot torpedo. Catch the video on Youtube.

    Incidentally, if Iran has it, Russia China, N Korea and Venezuela will also certainly have it.

    • It is not a new idea and the US played around with it before and gave up thinking it had too many issues. They were wrong. I have even tinkered with the idea years ago in my own experiments with rocketry in the nineties as it happens. I think the USA to this day isn’t making a serious effort, probably because of the ramifications for the other weapons the US manufacturers produce and given it is the USA which relies so heavily on its maritime power and especially carriers to project force it’s more a custom built weapon against the USA than one they could gain much from.

  4. The US defense contractors have been paying immense backsheesh to members of congress for large contracts while they have been developing second rate weapons using unreliable imported parts much of the time. If rumors are true the Russian Navy now has near supersonic torpedoes that no longer emit a gas jet in front but generate an anti-gravity field in front of the torpedo, allowing it to pass through the water without displacing nit.

    • Sounds similar to the system used on the B-2 bomber, where the leading edges of the wing are electrically charged in order to create an electrogravitic wave that the plane then ‘surfs’ on. See this simple explanation: This system creates a purple/violet coronal discharge around the aircraft and is the culprit behind many nocturnal UFO sightings. Nothing new about this tech, it has been around decades and is based on the work of Townsend Brown.

    • This is a much simpler concept. Exhaust gas blows out of nozzles on the tip so the torpedo is actually a missile flying through the air underwater. Iran has them deployed on over fifty mini submarines in the gulf, each with four tubes, as well as on a large large number of fast attack boats. They literally have hundreds of them pointing at the Fifth Fleet at all times.

      Check it out!

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