The Financial Times (FT) reported on the 16th that China had secretly test-fired a hypersonic missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons in August, citing a source.
According to the FT, a Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) fell about 32 km from its target. “This test, which shows the progress of China’s hypersonic weapons, surprised US intelligence,” the FT said. Although it is already known that China has hypersonic missiles, this test launch proves that China’s hypersonic weapons-related technology is more advanced than the US knows. “If a hypersonic missile equipped with a nuclear warhead is completed, it will render the US missile defense system useless,” said Taylor Frabell, a professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), an expert on China’s nuclear weapons policy, in an interview with the FT.
Hypersonic missiles are state-of-the-art weapons called ‘game changers’ that can change the game of war with missiles that speed up to 20 times or more the speed of sound. Ballistic missiles rise high into space and fly in a parabolic shape, whereas hypersonic missiles fly in low orbits in the atmosphere and hit their targets quickly. It is evaluated that it will neutralize each country’s MD systems targeting cruise missiles and ballistic missiles.
Military powers such as the United States, China, and Russia are taking the lead in developing hypersonic missiles as they can strike anywhere in the world within an hour or two and break through missile defenses. North Korea also joined the competition by conducting a test launch of a hypersonic missile, the Hwasong-8, on the 28th of last month. China first unveiled the hypersonic missile ‘Dongfeng-17’ at a military parade to mark the 70th anniversary of its founding in October 2019. At the end of the same year, Russia deployed ‘Avangard’ and succeeded in test-fired ‘Zircon’, a new hypersonic cruise missile last year. The US has been pushing for the development of hypersonic missiles intensively in recent years, but it is evaluated that it is lagging behind in competition with China and Russia so far. In April, the US tested a B-52H bomber firing a hypersonic missile ‘AGM-183A ARRW’, but it was unsuccessful.
Beijing = Correspondent Ki-yong Kim [email protected]
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