1995 it was revealed that Russia had developed an exceptionally
high-speed unguided underwater missile which has no
equivalent in the West. Code-named the Shkval (Squall),
the new weapon travels at a velocity that would give
a targeted vessel very little chance to perform evasive
action. The missile has been characterized as a "revenge"
weapon, which would be fired along the bearing of an
incoming enemy torpedo. The Shkval may be considered
a follow-on to the Russian BGT class of evasion torpedoes,
which are fired in the direction of an incoming torpedo
to try to force an attacking sub to evade (and hopefully
snap the torpedo's guidance wires). The weapon was deployed
in the early 1990s, and had been in service for years
when the fact of its existence was disclosed.
Development begain in the 1960s, when
the Research Institute NII-24 (Chief Designer Mikhail
Merkulov) involved in the artillery ammunition research
was instructed to launch the development of underwater
high-speed missile to fight nuclear-powered submarines.
On 14 May 1969, pursuant to a government resolution,
NII-24 and GSKB-47 merged into the Research Institute
of Applied Hydromechanics (NII PGM), which formed the
basis of the present day 'Region' Scientific Production
Association. Advances in the development of jet engines
and fuel technologies, as well as outstanding results
in the research of body motion under cavitation made
it possible to design a unique missile with a dived
speed much greater than that of conventional torpedoes.
When the suction on the low-pressure
side of the propeller blade dips below ambient pressure
[atmospheric plus hydrostatic head] the propeller blade
cavitates -- a vacuum cavity forms. There is water vapor
in the cavity, and the pressure is not a true vacuum,
but equal to the vapor pressure of the water. High-speed
propellers are often designed to operate in a fully-cavitating
(supercavitating) mode. A high speed supercavitating
projectile, while moving in the forward direction, rotates
inside the cavity. This rotation leads to a series of
impacts between the projectile tail and the cavity wall.
The impacts affect the trajectory as well as the stability
of motion of the projectile. The present paper discusses
the in-flight dynamics of such a projectile. Despite
the impacts with the cavity wall, the projectile nearly
follows a straight line path. The frequency of the impacts
between the projectile tail and cavity boundary increases
initially, reaches a maximum, and then decreases gradually.
The frequency of impacts decreases with the projectile's
moment of inertia.
Apparently fired from standard 533mm
torpedo tubes, Shkval has a range of about 7,500 yards.
The weapon clears the tube at fifty knots, upon which
its rocket fires, propelling the missile through the
water at 360 kph [about 100 m/sec / 230 mph / 200-knots],
three or four times as fast as conventional torpedoes.
The solid-rocket propelled "torpedo" achieves
high speeds by producing a high-pressure stream of bubbles
from its nose and skin, which coats the torpedo in a
thin layer of gas and forms a local "envelope"
of supercavitating bubbles. Carrying a tactical nuclear
warhead initiated by a timer, it would destroy the hostile
submarine and the torpedo it fired. The Shkval high-speed
underwater missile is guided by an auto-pilot rather
than by a homing head as on most torpedoes.
There are no evident countermeasures
to such a weapon, its employment could put adversary
naval forces as a considerable disadvantage. One such
scenario is a rapid attack situation wherein a sudden
detection of a threat submarine is made, perhaps at
relatively short range, requiring an immediate response
to achieve weapon on target and to ensure survival.
Apparently guidance is a problem, and the initial version
of the Shkval was unguided However, the Russians have
been advertising a homing version, which runs out at
very high speed, then slows to search.
A prototype of the modernised "Shkval",
which was exhibited at the 1995 international armaments
show in Abu Dhabi, was discarded. An improved model
was designed with a conventional (non-nuclear) warhead
and a guided targeting system, which substantially enhances
its combat effectiveness. The first tests of the modernised
Shkval torpedo were held by the Russian Pacific Fleet
in the spring of 1998.
The 'Region' Scientific Production Association
has developed developed an export modification of the
missile, 'Shkval-E'. Russia began marketing this conventionally
armed version of the Shkval high-speed underwater rocket
at the IDEX 99 exhibition in Abu Dhabi in early 1999.
The concept of operations for this missile requires
the crew of a submarine, ship or the coast guard define
the target's parameters -- speed, distance and vector
-- and feeds the data to the missile's automatic pilot.
The missile is fired, achieves its optimum depth and
switches on its engines. The missile does not have a
homing warhead and follows a computer-generated program.
On 05 April 2000 the Russian Federal
Security Service [FSB] in Moscow arrested an American
businessman, Edmond Pope, and a Russian accomplice,
on charges of stealing scientific secrets. A FSB statement
said it confiscated "technical drawings of various
equipment, recordings of his conversations with Russian
citizens relating to their work in the Russian defense
industry, and receipts for American dollars received
by them." Pope, a retired US Navy captain who spent
much of his career working in naval intelligence, was
at the time of his arrest the head of a private security
firm. On 20 April 2000 the FSB revealed that Pope had
been seeking plans the Shkval underwater missile. Pope
was detained during an informal contact with a Russian
scientist who had participated in the Shkval's creation.
The arrest of Daniel Howard Kiely, deputy
head of the Applied Research Laboratory at Pennsylvania
State University, came almost simultaneously. The laboratory
led by Mr. Kiely has for many years been developing
torpedoes for US warships and submarines. Professor
Kiely had joined Pope in Moscow to offer technical advice
and determine the tasks for Pope's further activity.
Kiely was interrogated as a witness. His testimony and
objects confiscated during the search proved his involvement
in Pope's activities. Later the 68-year-old professor
was released and allowed to return to the United States.
The objective of the High-Speed Undersea
Weaponry project at the US Office of Naval Research
is to develop the vehicle guidance, control and maneuvering
capabilities for the quick reaction weapons. High-speed
weapons could offer an advantage for Anti Submarine
Warfare (ASW) "close encounter" scenarios.
The overall system response of a high-speed weapon for
breaking off engagements with enemy submarines would
be measured in seconds, rather than minutes. The High-Speed
Undersea Weapons project has three tasks; Vehicle Guidance,
Vehicle Control, and Test Bed Development. Vehicle Guidance
deals with homing sensors, signal processing, waveform
design, and autopilot commands that are used to guide
(either autonomously or with external interaction) the
weapon to its target. Vehicle control deals with control
and maneuvering of the high-speed weapon with emphasis
on stabilizing the supercavitating bubble cavity, and
optimizing the flow for low drag. Technical issues include
instability due to vehicle planing and tail slap, interaction
between cavity with propulsion exhaust, and propulsion
system transients, including startup. Test Bed Development
is an ongoing effort that develops a test platform to
test and evaluate S&T candidate systems such as
homing systems, vehicle control, and propulsion systems.