Japan Test Railgun From Ship

World Defense

Japan Test Railgun From Ship

The Acquisition and Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) of the Japanese Ministry of Defense made a groundbreaking announcement via video clip, revealing the successful completion of the world first shipboard firing test of a railgun. This milestone test, conducted in collaboration with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force on October 17, 2023, involved mounting the railgun prototype on an offshore platform, from which it discharged an unspecified number of rounds into the ocean.

While specific performance details are yet to be disclosed by ATLA, it is widely speculated that the railgun achieved projectile speeds exceeding Mach 6. This technological advancement aligns with Japan Defense Buildup Program, sanctioned by the National Security Council and Cabinet in December 2022. The program emphasizes ongoing research into railguns to enhance the capability of intercepting diverse airborne threats, particularly hypersonic missiles.

ATLA emphasizes the utility of the railgun in safeguarding vessels against both surface and air threats. The organization initiated its exploration of railgun technology in 2016, dedicating 1 billion yen from fiscal year 2016 to 2022 for research and development of the electromagnetic railgun weapon system. The first railgun prototype, weighing 8 tons with a 6-meter cannon barrel, is a testament to these efforts.

In 2018, Japan defense ministry released a video showcasing a 40mm-caliber developmental electromagnetic railgun and associated support and test equipment. According to ATLA, this railgun prototype successfully propelled a projectile at speeds of 2,297 m/s during trials, equivalent to Mach 6.5.

This achievement marks a significant stride in railgun technology, with these electromagnetic weapons utilizing electricity to propel projectiles at hypersonic velocities. Railguns, surpassing traditional cannons in speed and range, hold transformative potential in naval warfare.

Reflecting the strategic importance of this innovation, the Japanese Ministry of Defense allocated 6.5 billion yen in fiscal year 2022 and 16 billion yen in fiscal year 2023 for ongoing research on railguns capable of firing projectiles at high initial velocities to counter various aerial threats. In August 2023, a budget request of 23.8 billion yen for fiscal year 2024 further underscores the commitment to advancing railgun research.

ATLA outlines plans to continue testing the railgun, aiming to evolve it into a practical weapon system for the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. The agency also expresses interest in international collaboration for further railgun development. This successful shipboard test positions Japan as a frontrunner in the realm of railgun technology, showcasing its potential to revolutionize naval warfare on a global scale.

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