VA-111 Shkval

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VA-111 Shkval
VA-111 Shkval
VA-111 Shkval
Type Supercavitating Torpedo
Place of origin Russia
Service history
In service 1977-present
Used by Russian Navy
Production history
Designer NII-24 research institute
Designed 1960s-70s
Manufacturer Tactical Missiles Corporation
Produced 1977-present
Variants Shkval 2 Shkval-E
Weight 2,700 kg (6,000 lb)
Length 8.2 m (26 ft 11 in)
Diameter 533 mm (21 in)

Effective firing range Shkval: 7 km (4.3 mi)
Shkval 2: From 11–15 km (6.8–9.3 mi)
Warhead Conventional explosive or nuclear
Warhead weight 210 kg (460 lb)

Engine Solid-fuel rocket
Propellant Solid-fuel
Speed Launch speed: 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph)
Maximum speed: in excess of 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph)
GOLIS autonomous inertial guidance
533 mm torpedo tubes

The VA-111 Shkval (from Russian: шквалsquall) torpedo and its descendants are supercavitating torpedoes developed by the Soviet Union. They are capable of speeds in excess of 200 knots (370 km/h).[1]

Design and capabilities[edit]

Design began in the 1960s when the NII-24 research institute was ordered to produce a new weapon system capable of combating nuclear submarines; the Shkval being a product of this merger.

Announced as being deployed in the early 1990s, although previously operational as early as 1977,[1] the Shkval is designed as a countermeasure against torpedoes launched by undetected enemy submarines. It may also be used as a counter to incoming torpedoes whereby it is launched at the enemy submarine, forcing it to evade, and hopefully cutting the guidance wire to the enemy torpedo in the process.

Shkval nose cone
Shkval rear, showing the guidance fins and the electronics connector

The speed of the VA-111 far exceeds that of any standard torpedo currently fielded by NATO. This speed is a result of supercavitation: the torpedo is, in effect, flying in a gas bubble created by outward deflection of water by its specially shaped nose cone and the expansion of gases from its engine. By keeping water from coming into contact with the surface of the body of the torpedo, drag is significantly reduced, allowing extremely high speeds.

Launched from 533 mm torpedo tubes, the VA-111 exits the tube at 50 knots (93 km/h). Shortly afterwards, its solid-fuel rocket ignites and propels it to speeds of up to 200 knots (370 km/h). Some reports indicate that speeds of 250+ knots may be achieved, and that work on a 300-knot (560 km/h) version was underway.[2]

Early designs may have relied solely on an inertial guidance system.[3][4] The initial design was intended for nuclear warhead delivery. Later designs reportedly include terminal guidance and conventional warheads.[5]

The torpedo controls its direction using four fins that skim the inner surface of the supercavitation envelope. To change direction, the fin or fins on the inside of the desired turn are extended, and the opposing fins are retracted. To make faster turns, the push plate on the nose can be used to control the shape of the bubble the missile is traveling in.


The torpedo is manufactured in Kyrgyzstan by a state-owned factory. In 2012 the Russian government asked for a 75% ownership of the factory in exchange for writing off massive Kyrgyz debt to Russia.[6]


In 2000, former U.S. Naval intelligence officer and an alleged DIA spy Edmond Pope (Captain, USN, retired) was held, tried, and convicted in Russia of espionage related to information he obtained about the Shkval weapon system. Russian President Vladimir Putin pardoned Pope in December 2000, allegedly on humanitarian grounds because he had bone cancer.[7][8]


There are at least three variants:

  • VA-111 Shkval – Original variant; GOLIS autonomous inertial guidance.
  • "Shkval 2" - Current variant; believed to have additional guidance systems, possibly via the use of vectored thrust, and with much longer range.
  • A less capable version currently being exported to various third world navies. The export version is referred to as "Shkval-E".
  • Iran claimed it has created a version named Hoot.

All current versions are believed to be fitted only with conventional explosive warheads, although the original design used a nuclear warhead.

  • Length: 8.2 m (26 ft 11 in)
  • Diameter: 533 mm (21 in)
  • Weight: 2,700 kg (6,000 lb)
  • Warhead weight: 210 kg (460 lb)
  • Speed
    • Launch speed: 50 knots (93 km/h; 58 mph)
    • Maximum speed: 200 knots (370 km/h; 230 mph) or greater
  • Range: Around 11–15 km (6.8–9.3 mi) (new version). Older versions only 7 km (4.3 mi)[9]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "VA-111 Shkval Torpedo". Retrieved December 1, 2010. 
  2. ^ Polmar, 2004, Cold War Submarines, p. 304; Baker, Combat Fleets of the World 2000–2001, p.581
  3. ^ "КТРВ на МАКСе-2009 представит новую продукцию". 
  4. ^ "Подводные ракеты". 
  5. ^ Polmar, 2004, Cold War Submarines, p. 304
  6. ^ "Russia, Kyrgyzstan Clash Over Torpedo Plant". 22/03/2012. 
  7. ^ "American Jailed as Spy in Moscow Is Freed on Putin's Orders; U.S. Welcomes Gesture". NY Times. December 14, 2000. 
  8. ^ "Moscow 'Spy' Case Is Still a Mystery". NY Times. January 15, 2001. 
  9. ^ Russia / USSR Post-World War II Torpedoes


  • Polmar, Norman (2004). Cold War Submarines: The Design and Construction of U.S. and Soviet Submarines. Dulles: Potomac Books. ISBN 978-1-57488-594-1. 

External links[edit]