Japan is developing its own Electric Cannon to complete its anti-missile defense

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The technology of electric cannons, or rail guns, was favored by many staffs a few years ago, particularly in the United States, where the US Navy had invested several hundred million dollars to develop its own model. But for some time now, and especially since the Pentagon abandoned the program which gives priority to directed energy weapons such as high-energy lasers and microwave cannons, enthusiasm for this subject seems to have diminished. little dried up. Even the Chinese program, which hit the headlines three years ago when a Rail Gun was observed on a tank transport ship for testing purposes , seems to have evaporated, at least on the public stage. For Tokyo, on the other hand, this technology is of strategic interest , in particolare a fill certain deficiencies in the anti-missile shield currently in service , and thus face new Chinese, North Korean and Russian hypersonic weapons.

Remember that an electric cannon replaces the energy produced by chemical combustion to propel the shell, with un potente campo magnetico offering very high muzzle exit speeds that can reach and exceed 2000 m/second, i.e. Mach 6. In fact, , the projectiles thus propelled have a very high kinetic energy, giving them an increased range which can reach and even exceed 200 km, and a very high velocity compatible with the needs of modern anti-aircraft and anti-missile defense. In addition, the absence of chemical propellant is supposed to reduce logistics, allow very high rates of fire, offer advanced screening of the target by controlling the power of the shots, and reduce the risk of conflagration if the gun were to be target. On the other hand, to operate, Rail Guns require a very significant source of electrical energy, as well as very advanced materials to withstand the immense thermal and mechanical constraints implemented.

Rail gun test prototype in the United States
In June 2021, the US Navy announced that it was suspending funding for its electric cannon program.

Despite these tempting promises, Rail Gun technology, if not strictly speaking abandoned by many countries, has seen its ambitions reduced in recent years, and the investments devoted to it decrease significantly. There are several reasons for this. Firstly, conventional artillery technology has made immense progress in recent years, particularly with the arrival of new ammunition with added propulsion, making it possible to considerably extend the range of existing pieces. Thus, Leonardo's M982 Vulcano shell in 127 mm and 155 mm versions can reach targets beyond 70 km, and Rheinmetall's Assegai V-LAP ammunition can exceed 80 km range from a G6 howitzer. Considering the tactical needs linked to modern artillery, these ranges are sufficient for the majority of scenarios, more distant strikes being the responsibility of long-range artillery using ballistic missiles, or fighter aviation.

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