- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 23, 2001

Russia's military has disclosed details of a high-speed underwater missile that may have been the cause of the Kursk submarine disaster.
The Shkval-E is identified in a newly published encyclopedia of Russian naval weapons as a "high-velocity underwater missile" capable of sinking surface ships, protecting ports and blocking straits.
The missile, which is fired from a torpedo tube, travels underwater at speeds of 200 to 224 miles per hour three to four times faster than conventional torpedoes.
The missile uses a process known as "supercavitation" that creates a gas envelope around the weapon that lets it travel through water at high speed.
The book shows a diagram of that process, and also a graphic explaining how the Russian military would fire the missile against surface ships from submarines, shore batteries and surface ships.
The U.S. Navy is said to have very limited defenses against this high-speed underwater missile.
China's military, said U.S. officials, is interested in purchasing Shkval missiles for use against U.S. aircraft carriers and ships in the event of a conflict with the United States over Taiwan.
China also has purchased Russian guided-missile destroyers equipped with supersonic Moskit anti-ship missiles, identified in the book as the 3M-80E anti-ship missile. These missiles travel at a speed of up to Mach 2.5 or 21/2 times the speed of sound and can hit ships up to 120 miles away with their 660-pound warhead.
The book, "Naval Weapons: The 21st Century Encyclopedia, Russia's Arms and Technologies," is the third volume in a series that has provided extraordinary details and photographs of Russia's strategic and conventional forces. It was produced jointly with the Russian Defense Ministry and Tommax, Inc., a technology information firm in New Jersey.
U.S. intelligence officials said one among several theories about the Kursk accident is that the Russian attack submarine sank after a Shkval, which in Russian means "squall," exploded during a test last year.
Russian officials have said their leading theory about the cause of the accident is the explosion of a test torpedo with a special propulsion system.
The Kursk sank in the Barents Sea on Aug. 12, 2000, killing all 118 crew members. Russia is currently attempting to raise the submarine.
Information about the Shkval missile also was the focus of the espionage trial in Moscow last year of retired U.S. Navy Capt. Edmond Pope, who was convicted by a Russian court of trying to obtain information on Shkval. He was later deported.
The naval weapons book is the first government listing of Russia's sea-launched strategic and anti-ship missiles, anti-submarine weaponry, torpedoes, mines and naval electronic-warfare systems.
Editor Nikolai Spassky stated that the book is intended to help Russia's defense-industrial complex in the "development, manufacture and export of these types of weapons."
Adm. Vladimir Kuroyedov, commander in chief of the Russian navy, stated in an introduction that "priority shall be given to the search for and implementation of unorthodox approaches to the creation of weapons."
The 631-page book is written in both Russian and English and sells for $495. It contains hundreds of photographs and diagrams of Russian naval weapons and is more detailed than "Soviet Military Power," the Pentagon's annual publication cataloguing Moscow's military until it was halted in the early 1990s.


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