While action films would have you believe otherwise, bullets travelling through water are far slower – and less accurate – than those fired through the air.
But now, DSG Technology has developed a range of supercavitating ammunition that can effectively ‘swim’ longer distances to hit the target.
As a result, the firm says the Cav-X bullets can be used with standard weapons in multi-environment battles for diver support, harbour protection, and even submerged shooting positions.
The Cav-X supercavitating bullets come in 5.56mm, 7.62mm, and 12.7 mm, and can be fired from ‘air to water, water to water, and water to air, including partially-wet weapons, semi or full auto,’ according to DSG.
The ammunition relies on cavitation effects to optimize range and accuracy when fired through water.
This occurs when water pressure is lowered below the water’s vapour pressure, forming bubbles.
And, when the bubble envelops the object – in this case, the bullet – it reduces the drag.
‘In water at velocity >100 m/s the cavitating core forms a cavity that exceeds the size of the projectile,’ DSG explains.
‘Water resistance in the cavity acts solely on the leading edge. Stabilization achieved through contact with the cavity by rear of the cavitating core.’
A video demonstrating the ammunition shows how an unmanned underwater vehicle could even hit an airborne target when firing from 5 – 10 meters below the surface.
When using the 12.7mm rounds, it could even have an effective range in the air of more than 1000 meters.
And, it’ll work the other way around.
‘You can fire from a helicopter and take out a sub if you have a big enough calibre,’ Kristian Aksnes, director of Special Operations Forces for DSG, told Military.com.
According to the firm, the ammunition doesn’t require the use of any special weapons.
Instead, they say it works with ‘standard weapons – just switch the ammo.’
Supercavitation isn’t just useful for bullets – last year, Juliet Marine Systems unveiled plans for an underwater version of its drag-reducing Ghost boat.
The concept, called the Guardian, is a ‘submersible unmanned surface vehicle’ that creates a bubble of gas around itself to minimize friction, allowing it to hit a top speed of roughly 40 mph.
It works on the principle of supercavitation, and according to the firm, the Guardian is set to ‘transform’ naval capabilities for both manned and unmanned missions, allowing for a smooth ride even in rough seas.
It’s planned to be 30-45 feet long, and hit a top speed of 35 knots on the surface with four feet of draft – topping just over 40 miles per hour.
With these capabilities, Guardian could be used for surveillance, mine-hunting, and ‘anti-swarm, short-range firepower.’