The US army is planning to test-fire a cannon in 2023 with a range of 1000 miles. Current US artillery has 15-45 mile ranges. The benefit of having 1000 mile ranges is that the combat radius of fighter planes is about 700-800 miles unless there is midair refueling. US Aircraft carriers have a strike range of about 400 miles. Cruise missiles cost about $1 to 2 million each. Cruise missiles have about 500-600 mile range. Smart artillery could cost about $85,000 for each shot. Dumb artillery is in the $600-6000 cost per shot. Long-range smart guns could enable a ten to twenty times increase in power to be delivered. Smart targeting would mean no sacrifice in military precision.
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There are new ramjet artillery and missiles which would fired from cannons to 2.5 times the speed of sound where projectiles would take in oxygen to enable small rockets to propel then to five times the normal range. Ground-based missile ranges could go from 60-70 km to go to 300-350 km (210-280 miles). air-launched missile ranges could go beyond 500 km (300 miles). The US was working to convert guns to using hypervelocity projectiles, which were just extremely aerodynamic. Hypervelocity projectiles can triple the range of artillery. The ramjet artillery would still have nearly double the range of hypervelocity projectiles. The ramjet artillery is being developed by Nammo, a Norwegian/Finnish company and Raytheon in the US.
There are few technical details available for the Super Long Range Cannon. However, there are problems for a cannon to fire the projectile to extreme speeds. The barrels would tend to wear out. Getting very long barrels can help to get extra range. Photos and graphics of the SLRC show a longer barrel but they are not as long as what would be needed for the cannon itself to get 1000 mile range.
It seems likely that a combination of technologies is being applied to reach the 1000 mile range. This is likely long-gun barrels, new materials for gun barrels, hyper-velocity shells and ramjets. There could be improved fuels for the ramjets.
Military Transformation With 1000 Mile Guns
In a world with 1000 mile guns that cost less than $100,000 for each precision shot, then aircraft carriers would be replaced by gunships or stealth gunships.
The US tried to create the Zumwalt Destroyer with 80-mile guns. The 80-mile gun project failed.
It would also mean that any advanced military would load up on artillery emplacements built into the mountains with hard rock. There would be some tunnel systems to move guns around. This would mean long-range gun emplacements would be resistant to counter bombardment.
Guns with 1000 mile range likely have projectile speeds in the mach 5-mach 10 range. Those would be effective anti-missile and anti-aircraft projectiles.
Instead of 20-300 mile deep battlefields, the battlefields would be 10 to 20 times as deadly out to 1000 miles. They would be 10 to 20 times as deadly because the volume of cheaper munitions would increase 10 to 20 times for the same budget.
Unlike the Maginot line in WW2, it would be far more difficult to go around weapon emplacements placed every 1000 miles. It could become like 1000 mile trench-hard point warfare. The barrages would be from mountains and islands. Any attacker would need to eliminate the super bombardment areas before being able to properly advance.
Tanks cost $2 million to 6 million each. Two precision-guided long-range shells would be able to take out a tank.
Global or regional “trench warfare 2.0” would mean it would be difficult to go out into the open with non-stealth military assets.
SOURCES- Nammo, USNI, Nextbigfuture analysis, congressional research service – Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-Launched Guided Projectile, Global Security, The Drive
Written by Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com