Chinese nuclear

Chinese nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test surprises US intelligence

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Key Highlights:

  • Hypersonic missiles may travel at speeds exceeding five times the speed of sound.
  • The Pentagon requested $3.8 billion in funding for hypersonic research in the fiscal year 2022, up from $3.2 billion the previous year.

China tests nuclear-capable hypersonic missile

China has conducted a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile test, taking “US intelligence off guard.”

According to multiple individuals familiar with the test, Beijing fired a nuclear-capable missile in August that circled the Earth in low orbit before falling toward its target, which three sources stated it missed by more than 32 kilometers.

The hypersonic glide vehicle was transported by a Long March rocket, the launches of which China normally publicizes, albeit the August test did not.

“The test demonstrated that China had made amazing progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US authorities thought,” according to the article, which cited persons briefed on the intelligence.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on the report’s contents, but said, “We have made plain our worries about the military capabilities China continues to seek, capabilities that only exacerbate tensions in the area and beyond.” That is one of the reasons we consider China to be our number one pacing issue.”

Hypersonic Missiles exceeds the speed of sound

Hypersonic technology is being developed in collaboration with China, Russia, the United States, and at least five other nations. Hypersonic missiles, like regular ballistic missiles capable of delivering nuclear bombs, may travel at speeds exceeding five times the speed of sound.

Ballistic missiles, on the other hand, fly high into space in an arc to reach their objective, whereas hypersonic missiles travel low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching a target faster.

Crucially, a hypersonic missile, like a much slower, frequently subsonic cruise missile, is agile, making it more difficult to detect and fight against.

While nations such as the United States have developed systems to protect against cruise and ballistic missiles, the capacity to detect and destroy a hypersonic missile remains a mystery.

According to a recent Congressional Research Service assessment, China has been vigorously developing the technology, considering it as critical to protecting against US advancements in hypersonic and other technologies.

Developing hypersonic weapons is too expensive

The alleged test comes as tensions between the United States and China have risen, and Beijing has increased military activities near Taiwan.

Pentagon under Secretary of Defense for Research and Engineering Michael Griffin previously stated that developing hypersonic capabilities was the “top technical priority.”

The Pentagon announced this week that creating hypersonic weapons is presently too expensive and that military contractors should attempt to “push towards more inexpensive hypersonics.” The Pentagon requested $3.8 billion in funding for hypersonic research in the fiscal year 2022, up from $3.2 billion the previous year.

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