Open thread: naval warfare

2013-12-20

in Bombs and rockets, Geek stuff, Politics, Security

There have been a number of interesting developments in the area of naval warfare recently: Chinese efforts to develop anti-ship ballistic missiles, American experiments with broad area marine surveillance, China’s declaration of an air defence identification zone, the launching of a Japanese destroyer seemingly designed for possible conversion into an aircraft carrier, the launching of China’s first aircraft carrier, and the development of supercavitating torpedoes, to name a few.

Particularly in Asia, the coming decades seem likely to involve considerable developments in marine military technology and deployments.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

. December 21, 2013 at 10:02 pm

BY FAR the world’s fastest torpedo, Russia’s rocket-powered VA-111 Shkval (Squall) can slice through the sea for more than 11km at a speed above 370 kilometres per hour. It packs a 210kg warhead and cannot be dodged or stopped by the West’s big warships. Christopher Harmer, a commander in the US Navy until 2011, says vessels must therefore remain beyond the Shkval’s “pretty nasty range”, or strike the enemy above or below water quickly enough to prevent a launch.

No wonder, he says, that the West tries to keep tabs on each model which leaves its manufacturer, Dastan Engineering, a Russian-owned enterprise in Kyrgyzstan. That is hard: unlike big strategic missiles, the Shkval, 8.2 metres (27 feet) long, fits in an ordinary lorry. The resources used to monitor these facilities cannot be revealed, says a former Western naval chief. But, he adds, given the Shkval’s power, “Why wouldn’t you choose everything you had?”

. January 1, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Naval Power
OpenCanada Staff | December 11, 2013

China’s recent announcement of an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) over the East China Sea that overlaps with Japan’s own ADIZ and covers disputed territory was just the latest provocative move of many between the two countries. Should tensions in the Pacific escalate, both countries would have significant naval power to call upon (including China’s recently commissioned Liaoning aircraft carrier). Meanwhile, in the Arctic, all countries remain committed to peaceful resolution of all Arctic boundaries, although Canada’s upcoming claim to the North Pole won’t win us any friends in Moscow. All of this got us thinking about the current balance of naval power between Pacific countries, which we’ve charted out in the graphic below.

. January 26, 2017 at 6:57 pm

Shkval’s problems are threefold. First, it has a short range—around 15km compared with around 50km for America’s principal submarine-launched torpedo, the Mk 48. Second, the hydrojet is noisy, so opponents can hear the weapon coming. Third, it cannot track its target. Most torpedoes use sonar to home in on the ship they are intended to sink. Because Shkval travels inside a bubble, any sonar needs to be mounted on the cavitation disc, which is too small for the purpose. In addition, returning sonar pings would be drowned out by the hydrojet’s noise. As a consequence, Shkval’s only guidance is an autopilot which steers it towards the place where its target was located at the moment of launch, in the hope that the target has not moved.

These deficiencies have not stopped Western countries trying to build supercavitating torpedoes of their own. Diehl, a German firm, announced a programme for such a weapon, Barracuda, in 2004. In 2006 General Dynamics, a big American firm, was commissioned to look into the matter (though its brief did not include the word “torpedo”, referring only to an “undersea transport”) by the country’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency.

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