Japan Successfully Tests Naval Railgun – Fires Hypersonic Projectiles

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Image source: ATLA

The Japanese Ministry of Defense’s Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA) has announced the world’s first maritime testing of a railgun. The electronic weapon successfully fired 40mm projectiles, accelerating them to speeds of 6.5 Mach. Developments in railgun technology accelerated significantly in 2022, promising imminent deployment of railguns.

A railgun, or electromagnetic mass accelerator, propels a projectile along conductive rails. In contrast to Gauss guns, where the projectile doesn’t physically contact the weapon’s walls, railguns are susceptible to rapid wear of their conductive components. However, railguns boast a significant advantage – the highest efficiency among all forms of electronic weaponry, achieving up to 35%, and potentially more.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense initiated railgun development in 2016 and significantly expedited the process in 2022, allocating record-breaking budgets for the project. While only around ¥1 billion (approximately $6 million) was allocated for these purposes from 2016 to 2022, railgun developers received ¥6.5 billion in 2022 and requested ¥23.8 billion for 2024. The ATLA agency overseeing the project aims to bring it to practical fruition in the shortest time frame possible.

The recent maritime tests of the railgun on a ship aimed to study the impact of the ship and mountings on the weapon and its accompanying equipment. The tests successfully achieved their objectives. Furthermore, the agency has shared video footage of the railgun firing on its social media page.

According to ATLA representatives, the railgun prototype weighs 8 tons, and the barrel’s length reaches 6 meters. The railgun fires 40mm projectiles, accelerating them to speeds of 6.5 Mach. This weapon is designed primarily for intercepting high-speed aerial targets, particularly hypersonic missiles. Concurrently, development work on laser and microwave weaponry is ongoing. These directions are also of interest to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

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Martin Harris
I'm Martin Harris, a tech writer with extensive experience, contributing to global publications. Trained in Computer Science, I merged my technical know-how with writing, becoming a technology journalist. I've covered diverse topics like AI and consumer electronics, contributing to top tech platforms. I participate in tech events for knowledge updating. Besides writing, I enjoy reading, photography, and aim to clarify technology's complexities to readers.

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