Back in 2016, a team of researchers at Penn State, funded by the US Navy, began working on a prototype that could achieve supersonic speeds underwater. And they’ve now decided to explore the possibility of turning this into reality with modern-day technology. The biggest problem with doing that underwater is the immense amount of drag that’s generated. But in order to overcome this issue, the team figured out a solution involving a bubble.
This is the same principle that the Soviets used during the Cold War to develop the Shkval – a type of torpedo that could reach 370 km/h, or 230 mph, underwater. Put simply, a combination of the shape of the nose cone and the expansion of gases from the engine and the gas generator in the nose, created a bubble that ‘wrapped’ around the torpedo, thus reducing drag.
The US Navy isn’t the only entity that’s working on a similar type of supersonic submarine. It sounds like the stuff of sci-fi movies – and it is.