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Japan reveals further intentions behind railgun programme

A 3D diagram of Japan's EM railgun. (Japan Ministry of Defense)

The Japan Ministry of Defense (MoD) has given further details on its intentions behind the country's electromagnetic (EM) railgun programme.

As reported by Janes on 18 October, Japan has carried out the first shipboard test firing of an EM railgun.

It was carried out with co-operation from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the MoD's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA) announced via an official social media page on 17 October.

In response to questions from Janes, a spokesperson from the MoD disclosed that the test firing of the railgun was carried out on the JMSDF's sole Asuka-class research ship, JS Asuka.

The 151 m vessel, which displaces about 6,200 tonnes at full load, is being used as an evaluation platform for the weapon as it continues to undergo further test firings.

Asuka is a destroyer-like vessel that was commissioned by the JMSDF as a survey and research ship in March 1995. Besides the railgun, the vessel is also equipped with an eight-cell vertical launching system (VLS) and sonars to evaluate anti-submarine warfare systems.

A three-dimensional (3D) diagram of the railgun that was provided by the ministry indicates that the system's conductive rail barrel is incorporated within a trainable turret mount.

The MoD representative that responded to Janes queries declined to reveal further technical details of the railgun, including its muzzle velocity and projectile weight, citing confidentiality concerns.

However, the spokesperson added that the railgun system is being evaluated to understand if it will have practical applications for future requirements and that no decision has been made on whether the type of weapon will be procured.

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