Very High Speed Torpedoes

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Pacific Historian
Jun 4, 2005
Orange County, CA
Iran has announced they have "perfected" torpedoes that travel extremely fast (200 mph plus?).

I looked at some web sites to see if this is possible. It looks like it is, as it works on a "supercavitation" principal.

Read for yourself. Think its actually a threat that cant be defended against? (and scoll down the page to BA-111 Shkval underwater rocket)
Supposedly those Shkval torpedoes have been around for years. You'd just hope to god that you had enough distance between you and it to take some kind of deffensive measure.
Maestro said:
No honestly, it's scary...
To say the least. Russian weapons have never been known for their accuracy, but then they didn't always have to be accurate. What they lack in guidance, they make up for in yield. If that thing goes off within a mile...well you probably get the picture. Assuming it's nuclear of course, which it well could be. A Shkval will get to you mighty fast too.
According to wikipedia:
In 2004 the German weapons manufacturer DIEHL BGT Defence announced their own supercavitating torpedo called the Barracuda.
I wonder what a defence would be against these.

It would make a tremendous noise while underway, and the ships defenses would easily "hear" it.

Would a large conventional underwater detonation in its path create a shockwave that would wreck the cavitation bubble and deflect it?
syscom3 said:
I wonder what a defence would be against these.

It would make a tremendous noise while underway, and the ships defenses would easily "hear" it.
That will probably the last thing they will hear.
syscom3 said:
Would a large conventional underwater detonation in its path create a shockwave that would wreck the cavitation bubble and deflect it?
I doubt it would help.I think its easier just to destroy the torpedo_Of course, if you will have enough time.
I heard that some versions apparently don't have a warhead and just use kinetic energy

Apparently supercaviating bullets were also developed for an underwater assault rifle

Allegedly design began in the 1960s - could make a good Bond film

On April 5, 2000, an American businessman, Edmond Pope, and a Russian colleague were arrested by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) in Moscow. The men were charged with stealing scientific secrets -- specifically information on the Shkval torpedo. Pope, a retired U.S. Navy captain who spent the majority of his career working in naval intelligence, was then the head of a private security firm. Two weeks after the arrest, the FSB claimed that Pope was seeking plans for the high-speed underwater missile. The retired navy officer was detained during informal contact with one of the Russian scientists who helped to create the torpedo.

Pope spent eight months in the Russian Lefortovo prison awaiting trial. He was convicted of espionage and sentenced to 20 years. On Dec. 14, 2000, Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned Pope on humanitarian grounds; the American has been suffering from bone cancer.

Pope was in Russia as a businessman to purchase Russian technology when he apparently fell prey to a Canadian intelligence operation intent on purchasing the Shkval torpedoes, according to U.S. intelligence sources.

Design began in the 1960s when the NII-24 research institute was ordered to produce a new weapon system capable of combating nuclear submarines. In 1969, the GSKB-47 would merge with NII-24 to create the Research Institute of Applied Hydromechanics (constructor Merkulov); the Shkval would be a product of this merger.

Deployed in the early 1990s but in fact operational before this, the Shkval is designed as a countermeasure against torpedoes launched by undetected enemy submarines. It may also be used as a counter to incoming torpedoes whereby it is launched at the enemy submarine, forcing it to evade, and hopefully cutting the guidance wire to its torpedo in the process.

If the torpedo is traveling at 200 mph, then its traveling at about 3 miles per minute. If the sub is close, then the targeted ship has a very short time period to react. If its at its outer ranges, smaller ships would have time to react and get out of its way. Larger ships like the carriers might have a chance, depending on its response to the helm.

While this torpedo sounds quite deadly, remember that its speed isnt blindingly fast. An anti-torpedo torpedo is quite possible as a defense. A combined closing rate of 250 knots is not fast as compared with missles which have supersonic closing rates.
syscom3 said:
An anti-torpedo torpedo is quite possible as a defense.
Are there any such anti-torpedos now?If I am not mistaken Russian Fleet have some kind of missiles that can be fired in the direction of incoming torpedo.But are there any anti-torpedo torpedos?
Iranians are all talk as usual, their tech is just old rehashed stuff from the soviets or US, like their new aircraft, one of which is a mildly rehashed version of an F-5 with F/A-18 style tail, the other is a development of a Russian training aircraft.

Even the Germans have developed supercav torps but theirs is guided and faster by the sound of it, supposedly can even intercept the shkval. I'd say the Ruskies and Yanks are probably much further beyond that tech to let the Iranians get hold of it.

Barracuda is a technology demonstration program for a supercavitating underwater missile for defence against torpedoes and for engagement of submarines. It is equipped with a rocket motor, inertial reference unit/autopilot and a mobile, conus-shaped tip. The rocket motor provides Barracuda with an underwater speed of 360km/hr, the inertial reference unit/autopilot stabilizes the missile and the flexible nose cone provides steering. During underwater travel, Barracuda moves in an air bubble, the so-called cavitation bubble which greatly reduces the water resistance, thus enabling the high speed. Some test models of the underwater missile have been built, successfully demonstrating stable straight and curved path accuracy in several tests. Barracuda will be deployed from submarines and from surface vessels.

some stuff in german I can't understand

US must have something like it, they are certainly working on the tech, here is a link to one that could be used as a high speed transport for seal teams.

some interesting comments on defensetech
a) The US Navy bought some shkval's from Yeltsin's govt in the 1990's.
b) There is no guidance: straight line only. They were designed for a Russian sub to perform a suicide attack on a US aircraft carrier by sneaking in close enough for the missle to be effective (but too close for the sub to escape support ships).
c) I would imagine (since these are so noisy) that even a conventional topedo lauched from the targeted vessel could find and kill the shkval, since it's moving towards the conventional torpedo.
d) The Russians conned the Iranians into paying hard cash for an almost useless weapon system.
The American Supercav and the Russian VA-111 Shkval are both high-speed supercavitating torpedoes, 250 mph class (more recently, there are also the English MK70 SpearFish TL8 and the German Barracuda). They don't use blade propellers to move, but powerful powder rocket motors. A fewer part of the generated hot gas is also projected in a front outlet on their nozzle, and the water in contact is vaporized, surronding the entire body, creating very low drag, thus high speed capabilities.
Russia has sold about 40 Shkval-E to China in the 90's.

But think this is old tech: Shkval is more than thirty years old... Its developement program began at Soviet Research Institute NII-24 in the 60's, and a LOT of work, completly different, has since been done. In particular with magnetohydrodynamic torpedoes, made in the 80's, that literally suck water amount of the body and all along of it, with strong electromagnetic forces.
The Russian MHD torpedo codename would be translated in English as "the Big One" or "the Fat One".

MHD torpedoes can travel at very high speed under water such as 1700 mph, because drag is not just reduced as supercavs, but completely eliminated. The drag is even negative, providing up to 70% of thrust thanks to MHD apsiration (around 30% provided by the rocket engine).
MHD propulsion requires large amount of electric power, and the very clever idea of these torpedoes lays in the way how the current is generated: they don't stock it in batteries, nor any capacitors. They create it in situ, extracting electric charges from the exhaust hot (very hot) gas, with an efficient MHD converter that relies on electrodes and magnetic coils. Due to the temperature, the whole system has a very short lifespan (10 seconds or so) but who cares since with such ultra speed you need 3 to 6 seconds to destroy submarine nuclear platforms ? The enemy just cannot react quickly enough.
Now, think that US Navy has since replaced copper coils by superconducting coils, and you can imagine where they are today. Think that the limit is the sound barrier under water and that this speed, unlike in air, is... 3315 mph.

The Russian's torpedos that the US Navy was copying were capable of going 230 mph underwater. Scientific American did a story 4-5 years ago. The link is to an article on the subject. There was also work being done on supercavitating ammo for macine gun defence of ships, i.e. projectiles that don't slow down immediately under water.
According to the german article, Barracuda made 432 kts. at trials. It seems to be designed as answer (?) to the shkval with full homing capability to intercept the noisy shkval. It also is said that Barracuda can be fired from all 533 mm tubes and dropped from aircrafts or even helicopters if the need arises. Development suffers from recent gouvernmental fund cutting.
Nonskimmer said:
Say what you want to about the Shkval, I sure as hell wouldn't like to be in the water with one.

Especially in a submarine... In a standard ship, you can at least hope to get out of a torpedo hit alive. But in a sub... You have three choices :

1 - Die instantaneously in an implosion.
2 - The sub slowly let water in and you drown.
3 - Same situation as #2 but you manage to make it to a "secured" area of the ship and you wait for help until you die asphyxiated.
or if ur lucky, the ub breaks in half and you omehow escape... but then get drowned by something

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