>Without something like this I don't think that there is a point in automatizing an SPG of this size, because reloading the magazine would take up too much time, to the point you might as well load them continuously by hand.
A variant of the automated loading systems of the PzH 2000, K-9 Thunder, or XM2001 Crusader would reasonably be able to load 2-4 complete rounds per minute, reasonably 4-6 with a good design - which is roughly the maximum theoretical firerate of such a gun in the first place due to the physical limitations of having to lower the gun barrel to load the gun.
Manual loading as with the M110 would only allow 2-4 for very short bursts by highly trained and physically self-destructive crews.
There is no practical reason to achieve higher hand-off rates than this.
>And I have a feeling that bigger cannons are going to have a place in the near-future, because they are constantly increasing the range of 155mm shells at the expense of warhead size.
I would agree with you. So does the US Army, see the Strategic Long Range Cannon.
>Just imagine how bad the ˝bang-to-buck" ratio of this thing must be...
Considering that munition is a reduced casualty, precision guided 'kinetic-kill' weapon, the answer is 'not very much at all' - and that's exactly what they wanted when they designed it.
Ramjet and Scramjet shells can
be designed with proper warheads, payloads, or bursting charges, but the minimum bore for effectiveness of that type of shell is considered to be 11in/280mm.
An 8in/203mm gun will not gain that much
in range benefit over the 155mm.
>Will we see systems that combine projectile and direct energy weapons, the same way some AA and CIWSs have both guns and missiles?
It's possible, but I wouldn't expect it to happen due to the massive differences in the internal workings of the weapons systems and the potential for the gun to damage the lasers' optics.
>I imagine if nothing else, putting a laser in an independent mount on top of a gun turret would at least make sure that their arcs-of-fire aren't interfering.
theoretically build the gun turret around the laser, but to just put an independently training laser on top of a proper gun turret would require the laser's source components to also be in the rotating structure of the turret, which would massively increase the turret's size. As for building the gun turret around the laser, it's theoretically possible to make it function, but it is inadvisable for a multitude of reasons, the simplest being the aforementioned damage issue.
>And they could use the same fire control system.
They couldn't. Projectile weapons have shell arcs, lasers are point weapons which require calculation of frequency modulation. The formula are too different for them to be in the same fire control system. Making them function as co-elements of the same central control system - such as AEGIS - certainly could be done, but different fire control systems/subsystems themselves would be required.
>Is there something that keeps navies from making a submarine that has no horizontal torpedo launchers, only VLS cells along the hull?
Horizontal tubes are superior for ASW work, by far. Furthermore, at periscope depth a horizontally fired torpedo would likely jump out of the water and waste fuel, if not burn out the engine right then and there.
>I imagine those same cells could be used to launch torpedoes too, and they are guided anyway.
They cannot. Firstly, the VLS tubes are designed to throw the missile out of the water entirely before the missile engine fires. If a torpedo was launched out of one of them, it would fly out of the water with enough force that it probably would detonate on impact with the water. Secondly, modern torpedoes tend to be wire-guided, which simply would not work from the VLS tube - you would have to mount the torpedo tube vertically to make it work.
>Could lasers be counted by filling the air with sand then? Because the idea of launching hundreds of projectiles filled with sand (and explosives to scatter them) sounds like a stupid simple low-tech counter.
>hundreds of projectiles filled with sand
So, you're suggesting that some military power fill billions
of dollars worth of missiles with... sand? As decoys/chaff?
At that point, instead of spending 90 kill missiles' worth on what is effectively 100 dummy missiles, why wouldn't they just buy the 90 extra kill missiles and just over-saturate the defense system?
Every hard-kill defensive system can be overwhelmed, either by wasting all of its ammo or by sending more attacks than it can respond to in any given time.
That's why I also advocate heavy carbon-based armors, for the inevitable moment that the enemy does
overwhelm your active defenses and all you can do is eat it. Obviously, cost is the big issue with that
one and it's entirely impractical to heavily armor an entire army forward base, for example, but if nobody takes such positions no development at all will be made in that critical field.
But I digress.