Shkval... a "Wunderwaffe"?

Shkval project was started in early 1960 as a defensive weapon for Red Fleet SSN's. They were to fire one or two very high speed torpedoes against US hunter killers and take evasive action. Secondary purpose was to hit US carrier task forces with nuclear warhead, but this is nearly impossible because of two reasons:

1. Sneaking in highly protected task force group well within firing range (around 10km) is nearly impossible (think about a defensive perimeter formed by S-3 Vikings, SH-3 / SH-60's, Spruance's, SSN'S, allied CV's etc)

2. Range was so close that an explosion could well damage the attacker.


Design studies of the first prototype was completed in 1963 and firing tests were started following year in Issik Kul lake. Tests and modification work were not completed until 1972 and eventually serial production was started in late 1977. Shkval always has been a troublesome weapon to develop.

This weapon is best fit for evasive actions, since Soviet submarine detection & countermeasure tehcniques and equipment were not as much developed as US systems. It's sole purpose was to gain time for the defendant to take evasive action and run away. Shkval simply is not appropriate for aggreesor moves because.. well just because

It is very very very.. damn very noisy.

Shkval's main characteristic feature is also its main drawback for aggressive actions. As an evasive weapon its noise and gigantic cavitation can confuse attacker's sonars, but when attacking a target, you must be damn silent.

That was number 1.

As a second point, this weapon cannot be guided with conventional ways because of the combination of its high speed, cavitation, underwater acoustics and material properties. Since this torpedo-missile creates a high temperature field and cavitation around it, it will be nearly impossible to guide it via wires, since it is very difficult + expensive to produce a wire that won't break up during such extreme maneouvers applied after launch. It also will not be possible to home it with onboard sonar because of large cavitation around the nose section and high speed of the torpedo. Not to mention how effective can a guidance system solution would be for a range of about 10km.. To increase the range more propellant must be added, but such a loud underwater platform will be damn so easy to detect from ~10km. All you need to foul is to fire a simple homing torpedo against it and chang your bearing + depth. Such noise created by Shkval can attract even the good-old Mk37

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