China allegedly tested a hypersonic missile in August, showcasing its space capabilities and new technology, as well as surprising U.S. intelligence, the Financial Times (FT) reported.
The missile in question was supposedly launched by the Chinese military on a Long March rocket, circled around Earth at low orbit before zeroing in on its target, which it missed by approximately 24 miles (38 km).
Regardless, the test was enough to demonstrate “an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise,” per the FT’s report. It also showed just how far China’s hypersonic weapon technology has progressed.
China has yet to release an official statement about the launch, but the FT’s anonymous sources have direct knowledge of the August launch, according to the report.
The world and hypersonic missiles
China isn’t the only country pushing its hypersonic missile technology forward.
Earlier this month, Russia claimed it had successfully fired a hypersonic missile from a submarine. Just a few weeks earlier, the U.S. successfully tested its hypersonic cruise missile, and North Korea claims to have also carried out its first hypersonic missile test in September.
As these powerful nations push their hypersonic missile progress forward, it’s little surprise China is joining the race.
Back in 2019, China had already showcased its advancing weaponry, which included its DF-17 hypersonic missile, reported Reuters. Ever since, it has been working hard to get the technology literally off the ground, as well as developing systems to defend against hypersonic missiles, per Al Jazeera.
Hypersonic missiles, similar to ballistic missiles, can fly at over five times the speed of sound and can deliver nuclear weapons. But unlike ballistic missiles that fly high up to space and back down again in an arc, hypersonic missiles fly at lower trajectories and are more maneuverable, making them a difficult target to track and defend against.