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JMSDF mulls over new class of railgun-equipped destroyers

Japan's 13DDX concept inherits features from the JMSDF's Mogami class, one of which is seen here at Changi Naval Base in 2023, and its Asahi-class destroyers. (Janes/Ridzwan Rahmat)

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) has begun studying the possibility of acquiring a new class of destroyers that will be equipped with electromagnetic (EM) railguns and high-powered lasers.

In response to questions from Janes, a spokesperson from Japan's Ministry of Defense (MoD) has confirmed that the service first began studying this warship concept in 2023.

The concept, which has been dubbed as the 13DDX future destroyer, was developed by the MoD's Acquisition, Technology & Logistics Agency (ATLA), the spokesperson added.

Besides being armed with railguns and high-powered lasers, the 13DDX will also be equipped with directed energy weapon (DEW) systems and a new type of multifunction radar that will be optimised to detect high-speed targets, according to information in a presentation that was produced by ATLA.

It will also be equipped with automated damage control and navigation systems and the flexibility to take on a variety of mission modules.

The 13DDX will inherit some features from the JMSDF's Asahi-class destroyers and Mogami-class frigates.

However, the agency is not able to provide further specifics on the concept, including the projected tonnage and overall length of the warship, as these are still being studied, the MoD spokesperson said.

Japan first disclosed in October 2023 that it has carried out the country's first shipboard test firing of an EM railgun. The firing was carried out on the JMSDF's sole Asuka-class research ship, JS Asuka.

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