FY 2009 Accomplishments:
- Developed vehicle control system and algorithms.
- Conducted extensive simulation testing with increasing vehicle and environmental fidelity.
- Conducted modeling, simulations, and experiments to refine understanding of cavity and vehicle control and stability.
- Continued development of vehicle design including propulsion system design and integration, and design, fabrication and testing of a scaled prototype vehicle.
FY 2010 Plans:
- Complete design, fabrication and component testing of a scaled vehicle.
- Conduct initial at-sea testing of a scaled vehicle.
- Analyze vehicle performance for speed, power and stability.
- Complete development of vehicle control system.
- Modify vehicle systems for at-sea testing series based on testing results.
FY 2011 Base Plans:
- Complete at-sea testing of a scaled vehicle.
Underwater Express was announced with a request for proposals in 2005. The RFP specified supercavitation, a form of enhanced submerged propulsion exploiting a self-made vacuum cavity or gas envelope between hull and ocean to reduce flow resistance by “60 — 70%.” Supercavitation, such as used in the Soviet-Russian Shkval rocket torpedo, is extremely noisy. Even allowing for a breakthrough in how the gas cavity is created and maintained, the classic power-versus-speed formula makes it highly likely that only a rocket engine could achieve the required 100-knot speed for the SST. Yet the RFP mentioned nothing about silencing the technology demonstrator minisub.
After a competition, General Dynamics Electric Boat was awarded a contract which by completion is expected to total $38 million. The deliverable will be a quarter-scale unmanned version of its winning design, to be demonstrated in the waters off New England in spring 2010. The demo is to include runs at up to 100 knots for 10 minutes, with maneuvers to show that the SST is safe at such speeds. GDEB says they’ve solved the challenges of maintaining a stable gas envelope while accurately controlling the test vessel’s depth, course, angle of attack, and speed. Details are top secret.
Also in development in recent years is the Underwater Express, a ship commissioned by DARPA. This program calls for a supercavitating submarine that is controllable at speeds of 100 knots. Travelling underwater at a high speed has significant tactical and logistical advantages, but General Dynamics' Electric Boat is still working on the project. After a few years of updates regarding the Underwater Express, the media seemed to altogether forget about the multimillion dollar research, even though initial tests were planned for 2010/2011. Media requests to Underwater Express's program director have not been returned, but if/when they are, I will update this entry appropriately.
Regardless of the current feasibility of supercavitating ships and subs, it's clear that militaries worldwide are interested in having the fastest, most capable strike capabilities - and unlike the surface speed record, it's unlikely to be 35 or more years until superspeed submarines are a reality.
sferrin said:So is it safe to assume that nothing ever came of this thing:
bobbymike said:sferrin said:So is it safe to assume that nothing ever came of this thing:
sferrin - Does DARPA or some other DOD entity fund something, it gets to a certain technological level, that funding runs out and then another agency, like DARPA in this case, picks up that project and carries it on with new funding?