The big thing with modern weapons systems is reach vs. rate at cost.
An F/A-18E will burn as much as 30-35,000lbs of fuel (at roughly $1.74 and 6.8lbs per gallon for JP-8 I believe comes out to about ) in getting to say
700nm distance and then coming back. A cruise missile will only burn about 1,500lbs to go the same distance but is a throwaway of around 730,000
dollars compared to the 40 grande it takes to buy a pair of GBU-31 JDAM (to stick under the wings of a Hornet).
'Somewhere inbetween' (7,700 dollars for jet fuel and 38,000 dollars for JDAM= 45,700 dollars vs, 730,000 dollars for the Tomahawk Blk.IVa = 387,850
dollars) is a break even point where, provided you have continuing targeting as a standard for all three options, a battleship with a Bull Gun could
really make some headway as a weapons system.
Mind you, it would not be pretty or 'majestic' like you think of it. Rather it would look like a rather large tanker or container ship with twin
derricks supporting a 1,000ft barrel like so-
With a primary range of at least 1,200km, there being next to no need for 'secondary armament' like the 5" weapons and 40/20mm selfdefense systems
on the Iowa class.
It would be designed strictly to replace the carrier as a long range interdiction tool. Leaving the pissant guns of the 5 and 6" class, with GPS
guidance (like Excaliber) to pretend they were doing some good in the 60-90nm range category.
_If you cannot reach inland_ your navy is never going to be more than an overpriced armored car service for the systems that do.
Which brings us to propulsion efficiencies and ratest of fire.
Despite the hype, EMLs have proven far more able to launch grapefruit at 10km/sec than a volkswagon (equivalent mass) at 2. A large part of this is
the destructive interaction effects of rail type systems with the anode on which the round rides. There being /severe/ oxidation effects which more
or less ruin the gun after a single firing.
Superconducting materials and Coil system design approaches can help save the 'barrel' but generally lose propulsive efficiencies.
Right now, the best options are likely inert 'light gas' gun systems which essentially treat the tube as a hypersonic windtunnel using nothing less
than pressurized helium or hydrogen injected in sections to maintain constant pressure acceleration.
The other alternative being to go with a system that makes the projectile itself a ramjet, feeding off a premixed fuel-air combination within the
Either way, your driving factors are going to be warhead vs. ablative costs (a true space gun loses 20% of it's muzzle velocity and 90% of it's
ablative protection within the first 50 FEET of barrel exit, a weapon designed to fire much slower projectiles might do better) and reload rates.
Particularly once DEWS come online, a system which fired once per hour might not be able to do much simply because a Mach 4 transit and Mach 6+ splash
speed is well within the ability of a laser to track (HV submunition clusters become a viable option however).
Similarly, most conventional strike packages are easily able to generate a 10 munition per raid (5hrs out and back) pylon count of aimpoints, often
with flexible targeting 'on the fly' as a function of overlapped munition redundancies.
Now, if you have two barrels firing, every thirty minutes, you can theoretically put 20 munitions downrange in the same 10hrs it would take a strike
package to fly 700nm and back. And that becomes a real war winner on both price and mission regeneration interval (time spent not bombing) alone.
Can you generate that kind of capability? Well, you've got ocean all around you for your propellant but electrolysis and cold storage capabilities
would still have to be rather large.
The ship could easily be engineered to 'rock the cradle' with the tubes in roll stabilized mounts and most of any recoil energy absorbed through the
hull and into the water (a traditional hydrostatic advantage of naval weapons) but it would have a very high center of gravity and quite possibly poor
Each round would have to be certified to perhaps twice the current 30,000G of a typical artillery fuze or guidance electronics.
And /some/ entity would likely still have to supply an air asset to gap-fill on satellite targeting/BIA coverage, even assuming most engagements were
'prebriefed' on a set of GPS surveyed coordinates.
Meanwhile, somewhere around 200-300nm, the combination of small diameter weapons and loitering presence would probably return tactical advantage to
fixed wing asset in conditions where flex-targeting meant the ability to react in under a minute.
I have heard alot about how battle ships can be outfitted with todays tech would be a formidable opponent.
And an oil tanker outfitted with perhaps 300-500 VLS cells becomes an 'arsenal ship' which is even more capable. Can you afford to fill it with 365
million dollars worth of cruise? If not, so what.
Very few nations can come out, even into littoral conditions (200nm either side of the surfline), to fight us. But the 16" gun can only reach about
50nm, even with the best munitions now available. If you cannot defeat a given contemporary target set which includes max range and collateral damage
restrictor variables completely beyond the BB's original mission set of shore bombardment and engagement of like naval assets, it's not worth the
men and oil you need to keep it running.
The reality then remains CAN YOU employ a modern day dreadnaught, presumably with guided rounds and dedicated '5X5' shot-lane stationkeeping, to
/replace/ conventional airpower in dedicated building-killer missions. So that it becomes possible to apply that airpower elsewhere, more
IMO, the answer is yes. And that very fact alone assures it will never be done. Because the world is ruled by airpower idiots that believe only
knighted officers can blast helpless 'insurgents' by destroying the telecomms, power and water that they and the rest of their society lives off
Take that away, and they become little more than CAS (a /support mission/) for the Army which is something no independent service branch will
willingly second best boot licker do.
Death Of The Yamato 'They couldn't fire half as many but they could reach four times as far...'