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Video: "Quicksink" Bomb Destroys Merchant Ship in Seconds

quicksink
Courtesy USAF

Published Sep 22, 2022 6:41 PM by The Maritime Executive

The U.S. Air Force has released new and startling footage of a test of its new "Quicksink" anti-ship bomb kit, which adapts a standard 2,000-pound smart bomb for the purpose of targeting and destroying large vessels. It is an inexpensive alternative to a heavyweight torpedo or an anti-ship missile, which deliver the same effect but at much higher cost.  

To create Quicksink, the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory started out with a GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM), the standard guided-bomb tail kit compatible with all American strike aircraft. In its normal configuration, JDAM uses GPS and inertial navigation to maneuver a standard bomb with enough precision to land within about eight feet of the target. Quicksink adds a smart guidance package and sensors onto the bomb's nose, giving it the ability to home in on a ship-shaped target. The bomb drops beside the ship and detonates underwater, breaking the keel with a massive pressure wave without ever actually striking the hull. 

The newly-released video shows the perspective of a camera mounted on a target ship. Almost immediately after detonation, the camera flies off its mount, falls to the deck, and is immersed in the water flooding over the vessel's side - emphasizing the extreme rapidity of the sinking. Based on the timeline in the first video released by the Air Force, the stern section of the target ship went under in about 20 seconds, followed by the bow some 17 seconds later. 

In the event of a conflict with a large navy, or a need to enforce an embargo on merchant traffic, cost per round and magazine depth could become valuable considerations. A munition that could be produced from existing stocks and then delivered by any U.S. strike aircraft would create new options for forces in the field. It could also send a new deterrent signal about the capability to counter certain threat scenarios - for example, a massed amphibious assault operation in the Taiwan Strait.

“QUICKSINK is unique in that it can provide new capabilities to existing and future DOD weapons systems, giving combatant commanders and our national leaders new ways to defend against maritime threats,” said Kirk Herzog, AFRL program manager, in a statement earlier this year.