According to information, China has launched a hypersonic missile that circulated the earth in low orbit, but the great power says that this is not how it looks.
China has denied a report that it had recently launched a hypersonic missile, saying it was testing a spacecraft to test reusable technology.
The Economic times reported on Sunday that Beijing had launched a nuclear missile in August that circulated the earth in low orbit before barely missing its target.
WITH sources said that the hypersonic missile was carried by a Long March rocket and that the test had been held under cover.
But China said the overnight report was inaccurate and that the exercise was a test of reusable technology that could reduce the cost of launching spacecraft.
“In my understanding, this test is a routine spaceship test, used to test a reusable spaceship technology,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told reporters.
“This can be a convenient and inexpensive way for people to use space for peaceful purposes.”
On direct question about WITH the report was incorrect about the missile, Zhao replied “yes”.
Together with China, the United States, Russia and at least five other countries work with hypersonic technology.
Hypersonic missiles can fly at more than five times the speed of sound and, like ballistic missiles, can deliver a nuclear weapon tip.
But ballistic missiles fly high into space in an arc to reach their target while a hypersonic pilot on a trajectory lay in the atmosphere and potentially reaches a target faster.
Crucially, a hypersonic missile is manoeuvrable – making it harder to track and defend against.
Countries including the United States have developed systems to defend themselves against cruise and ballistic missiles, but their ability to track down and take down a hypersonic missile is still in question.
China has aggressively developed the technology, according to a new report from the US Congressional Research Service.
The WITH The report said Beijing’s progress in the area had “surprised US intelligence”.
US ‘very concerned’
The United States is “very concerned” about China’s hypersonic missile tests, US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said on Monday after reports that Beijing was launching one with nuclear capability in August.
“We are very concerned about what China has done on the hypersonic front,” said Wood, who is leaving his post in Geneva next week after seven years.
Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles, can fly more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). But they are more maneuverable than their ballistic counterparts and only need a low orbit in the atmosphere, making them harder to defend against.
Wood said on Monday that Russia also had hypersonic technology and while Washington had refrained from developing a military capability in this area, they now had no choice but to respond in kind.
“If you are a country that is the target of it, you will want to find a way to defend yourself from it,” he said.
“And then we start looking at what other applications and defensive applications, you can bring to hypersonic technology – and so it continues to accelerate the arms race.”
The United States was also concerned about China’s rapid development of its strategic nuclear power, Wood added.
The United States is developing hypersonics
The United States is already working to add hypersonic missiles to its arsenal.
Darpa, the US Army’s scientific wing, recently announced successful testing of what it called a HAWC (Hypersonic Air-breathing Weapon Concept) missile. The missile uses oxygen in the atmosphere as part of its fuel.
It also develops a hypersonic glider, known as the ARRW (pronounced “arrow”), but the first major test in April ended in failure.
China introduced a hypersonic medium-range missile, DF-17, 2019, which can travel around 2000 km and can carry nuclear warheads.
The missile mentioned in WITH the story is different, with a longer reach. It can be launched into orbit before returning to the atmosphere to hit its target.
Russia recently launched a hypersonic missile, the Zircon, from a submarine and has had the hypersonic nuclear Avangard missiles in service since the end of 2019. Avangard can travel up to Mach 27, change course and altitude.
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