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US Navy is reportedly developing a one-of-a-kind supersonic submarine

By T.K. Randall
February 21, 2024 · Comment icon 20 comments
Supersonic submarine.
Could supersonic submarines be the future of underwater warfare ? Image Credit: Bing AI / Dall-E 3
The highly advanced new submarine would be capable of traveling at supersonic speeds underwater.
Supersonic speeds seem to be high on the agenda these days.

Just last month, NASA and Lockheed Martin officially revealed the X-59 - a supersonic aircraft with dampened sonic booms - and now, it seems, the US Navy might be trying to achieve something similar underwater.

For the last few years, researchers at the Penn State Applied Research Laboratory have been working to develop a radical new type of submarine capable of traveling at supersonic speeds.

To accomplish this, the submarine would employ a technology known as supercavitation which essentially involves encasing the vehicle in an air bubble to reduce drag.

A similar method was used by the Soviets to make high-speed torpedos during the Cold War.
Creating a supersonic submarine does come with its drawbacks, however.

For example, it's not clear how the submarine would mitigate the risk of colliding with a large sea animal at over 1,000 miles per hour.

It's also not clear what such a vehicle would actually be used for.

Even so, there is clearly a demand for such technology as, according to reports, researchers at the Harbin Institute of Technology's Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab in China are also working on a similar concept based on the same supercavitation technology.

It remains to be seen which country will ultimately get there first.

Source: Luxury Launches | Comments (20)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #11 Posted by and-then 2 months ago
I've read of the Shkval https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/VA-111_Shkval It was never put into production, but in theory and through some level of testing, it was proven to be viable.  I seem to recall they had a problem with the ability to accurately acquire targets with it.  Fascinating concept though.  It created a cushion of air bubbles that reduced drag significantly.
Comment icon #12 Posted by OverSword 2 months ago
Good point
Comment icon #13 Posted by and-then 2 months ago
Stealth is the most crucial part of protecting a sub from destruction.  This thing would make so much noise it would be heard from hundreds of miles away, I'd imagine.  The concept is to create a bubble of air large enough for the sub or torpedo to travel inside of.
Comment icon #14 Posted by and-then 2 months ago
That has been the life's blood of DARPA for a generation.  Occasionally, they get one spectacularly right  
Comment icon #15 Posted by lightly 2 months ago
Yup, and faster yet through a solid  like ROCK !    ..and not at all through a vacuum.  So, ‘the speed of sound’ is measured in air.     Light only travels at ‘the speed of light’ through a vacuum…slower and slower through gases like air , liquids like water,  solids like glass,     a rock?   Clear rocks like diamond…yes,  a chunk of basalt or black obsidian  ,no.?
Comment icon #16 Posted by Jon the frog 2 months ago
It have been in production and still his. It's more intended for nuclear warhead delivery in the middle of a fleet or to force an ennemy to do hard evasive manouver cutting the link with his own torpedo.
Comment icon #17 Posted by Macho MAGA Man 2 months ago
Sounds like the Warp Bubble effect the Enterprise encounters on Star Trek.
Comment icon #18 Posted by psyche101 2 months ago
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Supercavitation
Comment icon #19 Posted by Tatetopa 2 months ago
The article does get down through the hype and fluff near the end.  There are some technical problems to solve first; power from underwater rockets yet to be developed, steering because rudders wont work in the bubble and so on.  It sounds like its decades away from materialization if ever. Its a filler story when there is no real news.
Comment icon #20 Posted by psyche101 2 months ago
Indeed, wasn't DARPA getting headlines for a similar principle like a decade or more ago?  I think I remember reading about it here. Too lazy to look though. 


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