WASHINGTON, D.C. – The US Army is developing a new cannon it claims will have a range of more than 1,000 miles, according to Popular Mechanics. The Strategic Long Range Cannon (SLRC) is touted as potentially being able to strike targets at up to 1,150 miles (1,850km) away and fire 50 times farther than existing guns.
Earlier, the outlet had published leaked photos of the SLRC, touted as able to bring about a revolutionary breakthrough in artillery warfare. Just how the tremendous range that the cannon is to possess will be achieved is yet to be explained by the US military, but it’s likely that it will fire rocket-assisted shells.
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A special committee formed by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine is said to be currently studying the feasibility of the technology, with plans to test a prototype in 2023. The SLRC is being envisioned as a towed gun pulled by a heavy truck. Its vast striking range would be used to blast through enemy air and sea defenses.
However, as a land-based system, the SLRC faces limitations, as it would need airfields at sufficiently nearby locations, a secure airspace, and air force transports to airlift the big guns, as well as permission from foreign states to deploy it on their territory. As a truck-based weapon, it would be restricted to paved roads. The suggested solution, writes the outlet, might be to base some of the cannons on ships.
One warship could potentially carry the entire four-gun battery the US Army envisioned deploying abroad, plus shells for the guns. A vessel would allow for the relocation of cannons at sea, rendering it more difficult for enemy forces to target. Experts recall that in 1940, most major world powers had maintained large fleets of warships carrying between eight and 12 guns, between 12 and 18 inches in diameter.
Perceived as the decisive arm of naval warfare at the time, by July 1942, Word War II events such as the destruction of the German battleship The Bismarck, and the sinking of Royal Navy battleship HMS Prince of Wales and battle cruiser HMS Repulse in a naval engagement in the South China Sea on 10 December 1941 had proved the superiority of aircraft over the sea-based guns of the warships.
The class of battleships has since been considered obsolete. Battleships were constrained by their relatively short firing range and susceptibility to air attacks. Thus, the last battleships built for the US Navy, the Iowa class, while equipped with a powerful battery of nine 16-inch Mark 7 guns, could only hit targets at a maximum distance of 23.6 miles, writes Popular Mechanics.
The SLRC could potentially be based on a new class of battleships, allowing it to strike targets at unprecedented ranges. It could solve the task more cheaply than a fighter that costs $45,000 an hour to fly, says Popular Mechanics, without endangering a pilot. Furthermore, from the North Sea, it could bombard targets in Western Russia and even Moscow itself, claims the outlet.
In the Indian Ocean a warship carrying the new weapons could target most of Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Yemen, and Somalia. In the Pacific, the battleship could possibly bombard targets in North Korea and as far west as Beijing and Shanghai.
Responding to the reports, Russian military expert Alexei Leonkov, slammed the SLRC project as no more than an attempt to create the cheapest possible analogue of Russia’s “Tochka-U” and “Iskander” tactical missile systems, because High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS), which is in service with the US Army, is noticeably inferior to both, in range and accuracy, Leonkov was quoted as noting.