China has moved a step closer to creating a supersonic submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.
In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.
However, supercavitation technology has faced two major problems. First, the submerged vessel has needed to be launched at high speeds, approaching 100km/h, to generate and maintain the air bubble.
Second, it is extremely difficult – if not impossible – to steer the vessel using conventional mechanisms, such as a rudder, which are inside the bubble without any direct contact with water.
The Indians certainly make the Chinese look unreasonable by comparison.
The announcement of the deal came just a day after sixty prominent members of the Vietnamese Communist Party—including past advisers to the Prime Minister and former deputy ministers, economists, and government advisors—sent a letter admonishing the government for its close historical ties to China. Vietnam must ”escape” China’s clutches, the letter reads, and is ”paying a high price” for those ties. Indeed, “The more Vietnam makes…concessions, the more China dominates.” The letter also urged Hanoi to sue China at the International Tribunal on the Law of the Sea, which the Philippines is already doing. The letter is a serious and remarkable escalation, as it comes from within Vietnam’s ruling Communist Party.