U.S. Special Forces Take Huge Step Toward Developing an Underwater Bullet

2019/12/1575273461.jpg
Read: 598     12:14     02 December 2019    

By Kyle Mizokami

A new line of specialized bullets could allow U.S. special forces personnel to shoot their weapons submerged, engaging other divers and their underwater vehicles. While traditional bullets are ineffective underwater, the new bullets work by forming a bubble of air around a bullet, allowing the bullet to travel with fewer physical restrictions.


Ordinary bullets are designed to travel through the air at speeds greater than half a mile per second. Traveling through a different medium, well, that’s a different story. Bullets rapidly slow to a stop once they enter another medium—that’s a feature, not a flaw.

But what happens if bullets must travel through a medium other than air before striking their target? Water, for example, is 800 percent denser than air. Bullets quickly lose velocity, slowed by friction as they pass through the medium. In the video above, a rifle bullet traveling in excess of 3,000 feet per second exits the barrel of a rifle and is slowed to a complete stop in less than six feet. The bullet actually begins to tumble less than two feet out of the barrel.

All of this makes shooting bullets underwater wildly impractical. Defense One reports that one company, DSG Technologies, is developing a new bullet that can travel through water by encasing itself in a bubble of gas. The gas bubble decreases the amount of drag on the bullet, speeding it up underwater. This process is known as supercavitation, and is used by the Russian VA-111 Shkval torpedo to travel up to five times faster as conventional torpedoes.

The CAV-X Supercavitating Ammunition is classified by the company as a “Multi-Environment Ammunition.” The company says “this projectile is effective against submerged targets and targets in the air. Depending on the weapon and the used loading variant, this ammunition is suitable for use in partial or fully submerged weapons, regardless of if the target is in water or on the surface.”

By definition, a supercavitating object must create a gas bubble to surround the object moving through water. So, DSG’s bullets must somehow create that bubble around the bullet. One possibility is that the bullet somehow harnesses the hot, expanding gasses from burning gunpowder—the same gasses that force a bullet through the barrel and downrange—to create the supercavitation bubble.

The company is working on two types of rounds. The A2 round is shot from the air at other targets in the air or against targets underwater. The X2 round, on the other hand, is designed for combat swimmers and special operations personnel from underwater.
What’s more the weapon requirements indicate the bullets are designed to be fired from existing weapons used by U.S. special forces. This would allow U.S. troops to use the same weapon above and below water; the Russian APS rifle, on the other hand, is effective underwater but not so much above the surface.

The bullet’s reported accuracy is considerable: at 50 yards, a X2 bullet fired from an M2 carbine should have an accuracy of 2 minute of angle. Two minute of angle is approximately 2.1 inches at 100 yards, so the bullet would strike within one inch of the aim point at 50 yards. That’s impressive considering a conventional underwater round begins to tumble and lose all aerodynamic effectiveness at less than two feet.

A supercavitating bullet would be a major addition to the inventories of underwater special forces. Instead of being limited to engaging opponents with knives and hand-to-hand combat, SEALs and other special operations troops would have another weapon in their arsenal.

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U.S. Special Forces Take Huge Step Toward Developing an Underwater Bullet

2019/12/1575273461.jpg
Read: 599     12:14     02 December 2019    

By Kyle Mizokami

A new line of specialized bullets could allow U.S. special forces personnel to shoot their weapons submerged, engaging other divers and their underwater vehicles. While traditional bullets are ineffective underwater, the new bullets work by forming a bubble of air around a bullet, allowing the bullet to travel with fewer physical restrictions.


Ordinary bullets are designed to travel through the air at speeds greater than half a mile per second. Traveling through a different medium, well, that’s a different story. Bullets rapidly slow to a stop once they enter another medium—that’s a feature, not a flaw.

But what happens if bullets must travel through a medium other than air before striking their target? Water, for example, is 800 percent denser than air. Bullets quickly lose velocity, slowed by friction as they pass through the medium. In the video above, a rifle bullet traveling in excess of 3,000 feet per second exits the barrel of a rifle and is slowed to a complete stop in less than six feet. The bullet actually begins to tumble less than two feet out of the barrel.

All of this makes shooting bullets underwater wildly impractical. Defense One reports that one company, DSG Technologies, is developing a new bullet that can travel through water by encasing itself in a bubble of gas. The gas bubble decreases the amount of drag on the bullet, speeding it up underwater. This process is known as supercavitation, and is used by the Russian VA-111 Shkval torpedo to travel up to five times faster as conventional torpedoes.

The CAV-X Supercavitating Ammunition is classified by the company as a “Multi-Environment Ammunition.” The company says “this projectile is effective against submerged targets and targets in the air. Depending on the weapon and the used loading variant, this ammunition is suitable for use in partial or fully submerged weapons, regardless of if the target is in water or on the surface.”

By definition, a supercavitating object must create a gas bubble to surround the object moving through water. So, DSG’s bullets must somehow create that bubble around the bullet. One possibility is that the bullet somehow harnesses the hot, expanding gasses from burning gunpowder—the same gasses that force a bullet through the barrel and downrange—to create the supercavitation bubble.

The company is working on two types of rounds. The A2 round is shot from the air at other targets in the air or against targets underwater. The X2 round, on the other hand, is designed for combat swimmers and special operations personnel from underwater.
What’s more the weapon requirements indicate the bullets are designed to be fired from existing weapons used by U.S. special forces. This would allow U.S. troops to use the same weapon above and below water; the Russian APS rifle, on the other hand, is effective underwater but not so much above the surface.

The bullet’s reported accuracy is considerable: at 50 yards, a X2 bullet fired from an M2 carbine should have an accuracy of 2 minute of angle. Two minute of angle is approximately 2.1 inches at 100 yards, so the bullet would strike within one inch of the aim point at 50 yards. That’s impressive considering a conventional underwater round begins to tumble and lose all aerodynamic effectiveness at less than two feet.

A supercavitating bullet would be a major addition to the inventories of underwater special forces. Instead of being limited to engaging opponents with knives and hand-to-hand combat, SEALs and other special operations troops would have another weapon in their arsenal.

Popular Mechanics

 



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