Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 (HTV-2).(AFP Photo / DARPA)
China confirmed conducting a test flight of a new hypersonic missile
delivery vehicle capable of delivering nuclear warheads with record
breaking speeds. The move is purely scientific and not targeted at any
country, said the Defense Ministry.
"Our planned scientific research tests conducted in our territory
are normal," said the Beijing Defense Ministry as cited by Reuters
on Wednesday. "These tests are not targeted at any country and at
any specific goals."
The ministry’s statement confirmed a report by the Washington Free
Beacon on Monday. The newspaper cited US Pentagon officials saying that
a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) was detected flying at ten times the
speed of sound over China on January 9.
The officials added that the ultra-high speed missile vehicle is aimed
at "delivering warheads through US missile defenses."
The HGV dubbed the WU-14 was reportedly designed to be launched as the
final stage of China’s intercontinental ballistic missile. Its
hypersonic speed range reportedly lies between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or
3,840 to 7,680 miles per hour.
US Congress voiced concerns on Tuesday fearing the country is falling
behind in the international hypersonic arms race.
“While round after round of defense cuts have knocked America’s
technological advantage on its back, the Chinese and other competitor
nations push towards military parity with the United States; in some
cases, as in this one, they appear to be leaping ahead of us,”
Chairman Rep. Howard P. “Buck“ McKeon (R., Calif.) and Reps. Randy
Forbes (R., Va.) and Mike Rogers (R., Ala.) said in a statement as cited
by Washington Free Beacon.
The newspaper also said the test made China the second country after the
US to have successfully tested a hypersonic delivery vehicle able to
carry nuclear warheads at a speed above Mach 10.
Hypersonic vehicles, designed by the US, Russia and India, are developed
for precise targeting and rapid delivery of weapons. They are intended
to counter hostile missile and space defenses.
Annual increases in China’s military spending have allowed Beijing to
boost the quality and performance of domestic weapons and military
hardware. According to Chinese technical reports from December 2012 and
April 2013 the country is developing precision guidance systems designed
to be directed via satellite.
Russia too has confirmed the development of “a new class of
hypersonic vehicle” that would “allow Russian strategic
missiles to penetrate missile defense systems,” according to the
Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center.