Home Electromagnetic Disturbed by China, another ‘worried neighbor’ joins the hypersonic race; Scramjet engine combustion flight test by end of month

Disturbed by China, another ‘worried neighbor’ joins the hypersonic race; Scramjet engine combustion flight test by end of month


Japan may soon conduct the first combustion flight test of its under-development scramjet engine to advance its hypersonic technology.

The flight test could take place on July 23, 2022 at the Uchinoura Space Center of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), according to a statement given to Janes by the Japanese Ministry’s Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Agency. of Defense (MoD). (ATLA).

It is expected that the flight will provide crucial data that will drive the project forward.

The engine will power a variety of hypersonic vehicles, boosting the country’s ability to protect outlying islands, according to the report.

The goal of the research project, according to the ATLA, is “to acquire a model that estimates [the] in-flight combustion phenomenon in [the] scramjet engine. The organization added that the results would be comparable to information from ground-based wind tunnel testing.

To “correct and predict data during the actual flight,” the agency continued, it will also develop and evaluate numerical model analysis.

New advances in hypersonic technology from Beijing have become a major concern for Tokyo. Currently, Japan is looking to increase its investment in the development of hypersonic technology.

Japan’s hypersonic program

Hypersonic weapons can maneuver in flight and travel at speeds greater than five times the speed of sound, making them much harder to intercept. Russia and China have already deployed these weapons, which can be equipped with nuclear warheads.

In March 2020, Japan first announced plans to develop its hypersonic weapons, aiming to join a small group of nations including Russia, China and the United States. The strategic importance of these plans increases as there are indications that Tokyo may change its pacifist constitution to allow for greater military power.

File Image: Hypersonic Weapon

Japan intends to deploy two types of hypersonic weapons: the Hypersonic Cruise Missile (HCM) and the High Velocity Flight Projectile (HVGP).

The HCM performs the same functions as a conventional cruise missile. It can be fitted with either an explosive penetrating warhead (EFP) for land attack, or an armor-piercing warhead intended to pierce the deck of an aircraft carrier.

Rather, the HVGP uses a solid-fuel rocket engine to raise its warhead to a high altitude before separating, from where it can glide at hypersonic speeds towards the target. It can also be equipped with many EFPs for area saturation attacks.

Collaboration with allies?

China has accelerated the development of hypersonic weapons, including carrying out tests in 2021 of a system that would deploy a hypersonic glider vehicle during an orbital bombardment. Japan is working with partners to develop sufficient capabilities to defend against these weapons.

In January 2022, the United States and Japan announced their intention to sign a new agreement to enhance their cooperation in research and development on emerging technologies focused on advanced space systems and hypersonic missile defense.

In a joint statement released after the meeting, U.S. and Japanese officials gave little information on the details of the R&D sharing agreement, saying only that “Ministers are committed to continued investment joint ventures that accelerate innovation and ensure the Alliance maintains its technological edge in critical and emerging areas, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, directed energy and quantum computing,”

Additionally, a hypersonic missile test reportedly conducted by nuclear-armed North Korea earlier this year prompted Tokyo to focus on developing anti-hypersonic technologies.

Dark Eagle-hypersonic
File Image: United States Dark Eagle Missile

According to reports, Japan offers develop an electromagnetic weapon system to detect enemy hypersonic missiles in January 2021. Tokyo decided to develop “railguns” in response to its concerns about how to counter the threat posed by China, North Korea and the hypersonic weapons of the Russian Federation.

There are plans to upgrade the current missile defense system with railgun interceptors. A railgun uses electromagnetic force to fire high velocity projectiles rather than a typical explosive propellant to fire a bullet. The projectile’s speed, mass, and kinetic energy are used instead of an explosive charge to cause damage to the target when a bullet is fired.

In addition, AUKUS was said to have approached Japan, a military alliance formed in 2021 by Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States, to collaborate on the development of hypersonic weapons, according reporting.