As you know, in the magical world of America's pundits and their Pentagon sources the unsettling feeling was percolating for quite some time now:
The U.S. Army’s top modernization priority is to increase the reach and lethality of its fires, meaning artillery and tactical missiles. To say it has been making steady progress toward that goal would be an understatement; in the near future it will begin deploying weapons that far outclass their Russian and Chinese counterparts.
Make your own conclusions on how one "Ph.D." can teach simultaneously courses in "strategy, technology and media". I wonder if in his spare time he also teaches courses on appendectomy and quantum mechanics. But let's continue, Mr. Thompson discloses that:
Two weapons in particular break the mold on what the term “fires” has traditionally connoted in Army circles. The Strategic Long-Range Cannon will combine a new gun barrel, projectile and propellant to precisely hit targets up to 1,000 nautical miles (1,150 statute miles) away. That’s greater than the distance from Berlin to Moscow.
And I was, like, sort of, hm...that is interesting--a cannon, with such a range, this is, indeed, a breakthrough, that is until I stumbled into this explanation, after failing to find it in Thompson's pseudo-military Pentagonese semantic BS, and as it turns out:
What gives the SLRC its nearly magical range? One likely solution is ramjet technology. Ramjets are air-breathing engines that use the projectile’s forward motion to shovel air into an intake and then into a combustion chamber, providing a lot of oxygen for fuel and propelling the projectile along at speeds from Mach 3 to Mach 6. Because the ramjet uses available air as fuel, it needs less stored fuel and makes for a smaller overall package.
Ah, stupid me, I should have known better--they called a ram-jet missile launched from a barrel of a cannon a "projectile". Now, it is clear. It is yet another iteration of a disastrously stupid LRLAP for the cannons on Zumwalt-class DDGs, which were supposed to shoot not really rounds, but missiles and, of course, those "rounds" were so expensive that , well... read yourself:
So, what's the difference between this harebrained idea and a new strategic whatever cannon? Simple, more fuel and, hence, longer range for this new (theoretical) missile. It is a missile launched through barrel of a cannon same way as Russian tanks are capable to launch their 9M119M Refleks anti-tank missile through the tank's main gun. Obviously the ranges and targets for Refleks and SLRC, as well as targeting methods, vary greatly but both are MISSILES. Whew, now it is getting clearer. But my interest subsided greatly after reading this from Mr. "strategist" Thompson:
Who provides the targeting information? Target spotting
for field artillery typically is provided by warfighting systems
organic to the Army, such as scout helicopters and reconnaissance
drones. But when targets potentially are a thousand miles away, a
different approach will be needed. Gen. Rafferty says much of the
targeting information will be provided by space-based assets. That
presumably means relying on what used to be called “national technical
means,” or spy satellites. Targeting information might also be provided
by the F-35 fighter, which is nearly invisible to enemy radar and has
extensive recon capabilities.
Yes, we all know that USAF "stealth" aircraft are absolutely invisible to everybody (/s) and they sure as hell will provide targeting, together with always reliable GPS (wink, wink), which, we all know, that if Thompson says:
Like the hypersonic missile, it will have pinpoint accuracy, thanks to GPS guidance.
it must be true and GPS will deliver a pinpoint "accuracy". Once one also considers the fact that the maximum declared speeds for these "breakthrough" weapons is up to M=6, it is worth noting that even in 1980s, during some testing of Sea Sparrow AD system, its missiles locked on artillery shells fired by 5-inch naval guns. Since then, the art of detecting, tracking and shooting down of very high-velocity objects advanced in leaps and bounds, not in the US, though, and modern AD complexes are designed to deal with M=6 missiles. This is if to believe that such a projectile will actually reach those. I have all reasons to believe that this is not the case. I have my reasons, of which I may talk later.
So, what's the deal with this "cannon" which "shoots" at 1000 miles. I think Mr. Thompson rushes when declares this rather funny contraption a "breakthrough". For starters, he admits himself that:
The pivotal make-or-break year looks to be 2023, by which time both the hypersonic missile and long-range cannon likely will have proven themselves (tests to date have been promising)
Hence, my question, what kind of a breakthrough is this when, it needs to prove itself by the year 2023? Which, of course, as it is apparent from this typical propaganda BS written by an ignorant hack, is still not a guarantee; far from it--the whole "operational concept" comes across as a contrived bungled mess akin to a screenplay of a B-rated 1950-s sci-fi flick. It is clear that the United States is struggling with anything hyper-sonic and is still far away from fielding a complete and proven weapon system. US will get there, undeniably, but this is years away and professionals know this. Even today, when one looks at the type of weaponry Russia fields, it becomes clear that American exceptionalists (many of them being exceptionalists precisely due to their technical, historic, economic and military ignorance) are ready to go any length in their feeble propaganda trying to present either obsolete or preposterous impractical technologies by calling them anything what they are not. But it is nobody's fault, but America's, that she fvcked own missile development so badly, after convincing itself that she fields "the finest fighting force in history"(c). Even China today calls American bluff.
Chinese general taunts US: Our success against you in Korea 70 years ago serves as a warning to you to stop escalating tensions
Russia called this bluff long time ago and that is the main reason why we will hear about those "breakthroughs" non-stop, after all, we can call them flowers if we want to...