Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Shkval, the Hoot and the Ford

"By the way. We don't come to this game empty handed. Our Mk-50 torpedo is quite lethal, and if the need arises to build a speed demon like the Shkval or the Hoot, I am sure we are up to the task."

What kind of a goofy title is that for a afternoon blog on a cloudy May day? Unfortunately even on a cool green day such as this, the business of world peace is still on many minds. As I wrote about a while back, the United States will soon have a new class of super carrier. The USS Gerald Ford (CVN-78) will soon become the lead ship in a new class of carriers. This new class will slowly start to retire the Nimitz class carriers, which has served this country very well during the Cold War.

I have said for a while now, when one of our carriers sits in the middle of a AEGIS battle group, it is practically invincible. The current version of the AN/SPY radar can just about pick out a gnat's but (literally) from wave top to azimuth.

But when the question of the new super torpedoes comes up, will our Ford class carriers be able to withstand one of these speed demons? The Shkval Torpedo (VA-111) is a speedy little super-cavitating instrument of death which can travel up to (and maybe beyond) 200 mph. It was primarily designed to take out our Los Angles class attack submarines, so it did not need a huge warhead. And even though very fast, the warhead might be too small to break the keel of a Ford class carrier.

As we know, good news gets around. The Iranians, looking for an equalizer against our carriers, have built their own lethal torpedo. And this one is very fast also. The Iranian version is called the Hoot (Persian word for whale), also uses super-cavitation, and looks suspiciously similar to the Shkval torpedo. The Iranians brag this little puppy can max out around 220 mph. However, it too has a lighter warhead. 

Where is the world does all this lead? With torpedoes, speed and weight are at the opposite end of the spectrum. They can make these warheads heavier, where they can inflict more damage on a large ship, but then the torpedo will be slower and less stealthy. Since the Shkval has been around for a while, our war planners fully understand the pluses and minuses of how we will stack up against it with our newer ship classes.

By the way. We don't come to this game empty handed. Our Mk-50 torpedo is quite lethal, and if the need arises to build a speed demon like the Shkval or the Hoot, I am sure we are up to the task.

By the way, there are plenty of other things cooking in the kitchen right now. Rail guns, lasers, maybe even a particle beam gun. And that is just we what we know of. Just imagine what we have not heard of. Stuff so secret, its very existence is known but to a very few. Move over Buck Rogers. I am thinking the future might just be about now.    

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