Japan Successfully Performs World’s First Ever Railgun Test From Ship At Sea

ATLA published a video on X on 17 October. The footage reflects a developmental electromagnetic (abbreviated EM) railgun firing unprecedented rounds into the ocean via a vessel.

To safeguard vessels against air and surface threats with very high-speed bullets, ATLA promotes fast deployment of railgun tech, ATLA mentioned on X.

An ATLA spokesperson reported to Naval News on 18 October that the offshore firing test had taken place from a JMSDF vessel.

Representation Image

The milestone declaration came through after the JMSDF’s Headquarters of the Yokosuka District in January this year signed a deal worth approximately 10.8 million yen with an unspecified firm for the temporary equipment associated with 40mm railguns and so on for the vessel as investigation work, per a website, which summarizes the procurement impacts of the Japanese Ministry of Defense and Self-Defense Forces. This has also been perceived as ATLA’s next move to gather data on the JMSDF vessel as part of the future rail gun research.

Even though Japan’s MoD didn’t disclose the contractor’s name, it is well-established in Tokyo that Japan Steel Works, Ltd. has been involved in the railgun assignment.

Asked by Naval News if ATLA considered the railgun offshore firing test to be a success, the ATLA spokesperson mentioned that they were capable of confirming compatibility with the vessel on which the railgun had been installed and obtaining data on the impacts of ship-mounting on the railgun. They also believe that they could achieve the target results.

Railgun technology development has been with Japan’s new Defense Buildup Program and approved by the National Security Council as well as the Cabinet in December last year, which calls for continuous research on the future railguns for improving the capabilities of intercepting airborne threats, most notably the hypersonic missiles.

ATLA started studying railgun tech in FY 2016 by spending one billion yen from FY 2016–2022 to fund research and efforts for developing the EM railgun weapon system.

Further, ATLA has also explained to Japan’s media that the prototype of the weapon system weighs nearly 8 tons, and the cannon barrel boasts a length of nearly 6 meters.

The video published by Japan’s defence ministry in 2018 reflected a developmental electromagnetic railgun (40mm caliber) with its test and support equipment. Besides, ATLA mentioned that the railgun prototype succeeded in firing a projectile at observed speeds of 2,297 m/s in terms of trials, or Mach 6.5.

A new MoD document related to the JMSDF ship’s newest combat direction system boasts an image that shows a railgun on the future vessel, as well as a high-power microwave- as well as laser-based weapons, all of what Tokyo expects as a means to counter airborne threats.

The MoD reportedly allocated about 6.5 billion yen in FY 2022 and 16 billion yen in FY 2023, respectively, to research future railguns that can start firing bullets at a high-initial velocity to deal with aerial threats. Around late August, it also requested approximately 23.8 billion yen for the FY 2024 budget for near-future railgun research.

References: The Drive, Naval News

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