Weapons development goes underwater

Weapons development goes underwater

Summary: Back in the Reagan era, people were worried about wars being fought in space. But could the next war be fought in the ocean?

TOPICS: Government US, Legal

Back in the Reagan era, people were worried about wars being fought in space. But could the next war be fought in the ocean?

It's clear the the Department of Homeland Security doesn't think that an underwater arms race is just a fantasy, as they are investing in the development of a new generation of underwater weaponry capable of warding off undersea trespassers with liquid bullets, reports Wired News.

It doesn't take a genius to know that bullets don't perform up to snuff underwater.

"I have tried it myself in our pool," says Scott Greenbaum, a certified Glock armourer and webmaster at GlockFAQ.com. "The bullets only traveled about 15 feet."

There have been weapons developed to fire underwater since the Cold War. In 1970, the U.S. Navy introduced a six-shooter called the Underwater Defense Gun, or UDG, which fired a type of dart. Then there was the privately developed Gyrojet pistol, that fired miniature rockets, but they were fairly inaccurate, hitting a human-sized target half the time at 30 feet.

"Accuracy was an issue, but it appears that most of this problem was an ammunition quality-control problem," said Steve Ritter, a weapons designer and Gyrojet expert, who believes the testing was unfair.

The latest technology is in sonar and depth-charged underwater weaponry. Chris Weiland of the Advanced Experimental Thermofluid Engineering Research Laboratory in the mechanical engineering department at Virginia Polytechnic Institute is looking at new ways of achieving cavitation by injecting pressurized gas into the path of the projectile.

"Natural cavitation only takes place at very high speeds," says Weiland. "This can be dramatically reduced."

But if you want a peek into the future of underwater weaponry, look no futher than a 2005 patent granted to Thomas J. Gieseke, a Navy scientist at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center.

The patent proposes a "high-velocity underwater jet weapon" that fires a stream of high-velocity liquid "bullets" -- fine grains of metal or sand that form a cavity more efficiently than solid rounds.

Topics: Government US, Legal

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  • Hasn't this been done in Russia already?

    This underwater assault rifle has been in service over there since 1975.


    The cavitation idea sounds a lot like the Shkval underwater missile, and that has been developed in the 60's.