The Japanese Navy tested the ATLA Rail Gun on one of its ships

Launched in 2016, the Rail Gun program was developed by the Japanese Acquisitions, Technologies and Logistics Agency, or ATLA, in a relatively discreet manner.

The objective of this program, as defined in 2016, and rcalled up in 2022, was not to develop a heavy naval artillery system intended to be an alternative to cruise missiles, as was the case with the American program abandoned in 2021.

The ATLA Rail Gun program for the Japanese Navy

On the contrary, for the ATLA, the electric cannon technology was to make it possible to complete the anti-missile, anti-aircraft and anti-drone defense capabilities of the Japanese Navy's ships, relying in particular on projectiles of calibers much lower than those developed by BAe for the US Navy.

Sparing comments on his project, it was difficult to assess Japanese progress in this area. Till today. Indeed, the Japanese agency published, on its X account, a video showing the first tests of its cannon, on board a ship of the naval self-defense forces.

Video released by the Japanese Technology Acquisition and Logistics Agency.

If observations and certain unconfirmed announcements suggested that China had already equipped, for testing purposes, a system of this type on a landing ship in 2018, there is nothing to date to prove that firing tests had actually taken place.

This is therefore, in this case, the first documented test of an electric cannon fire on board a ship at sea, even if very little information, apart from the video itself, has been released. been disclosed by the agency.

The constraints of electric cannon technology

Electric cannon technology allows a projectile to be propelled into a launch tube at very high speeds, using a powerful electromagnetic field, and not an exothermic chemical reaction as with traditional artillery cannons.

This technology should make it possible, in theory, to achieve hypersonic muzzle exit speeds (greater than Mach 5), giving the projectile a high initial speed, an extended range, and a reduced arrow in direct fire.

BAe Rail Gun US Navy
The US Navy railgun program developed by BAe was suspended in 2021.

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