Japanese Weapons Agency Sends Official to U.S. to Learn About Railgun Development

Railgun uses electromagnetic force to fire bullets at high speeds, but challenges remain in improving accuracy and miniaturizing the weapon.
  • Defensemirror.com bureau
  • 10:25 AM, May 21, 2024
  • 665
Japanese Weapons Agency Sends Official to U.S. to Learn About Railgun Development
Railgun prototype @ATLA via Japanese media

Japan has dispatched a defense official to the U.S. Navy to gain insights into the development of a railgun, a weapon that uses electromagnetic force to launch projectiles at high speeds.

This was reported by The Japan Times citing government sources.

The official, from Japan's Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Agency (ATLA), is tasked with acquiring the know-how from the U.S., which has conducted extensive research on railguns, to expedite the weapon's practical deployment.

The ATLA commenced railgun development in fiscal 2016, achieving a milestone last year with the world's first offshore firing test from a Maritime Self-Defense Force vessel. The Self-Defense Forces (SDF) anticipate that railguns, which are cost-effective compared to traditional gunpowder-based firearms and offer harder-to-intercept projectiles, could revolutionize military strategy.

The SDF plans to deploy railguns on various platforms, including vehicles and ships, for ground assaults, anti-ship operations, and missile defense. However, the project faces significant challenges, such as enhancing firing accuracy and reducing the weapon's size.

In November, the agency assigned a technical official to a U.S. Navy-affiliated research institute. The official will remain there until June, learning from experts involved in the U.S. railgun program and inspecting relevant facilities. Japan may send additional personnel based on the outcomes of this initial dispatch.

The U.S. Navy ceased its railgun program in 2021 after over a decade of research, citing strategic shifts and financial constraints. Despite this, a senior Japanese agency official emphasized the value of the U.S. efforts: "There is much to learn because a lot of money has been invested in research and many prototypes have been made."

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