24 January 2016
China's Progress in Developing Hypersonic Weapons Unsettles Pentagon

Although Beijing has repeatedly stated that its efforts to modernize its military are aimed strictly at boosting China's defense capabilities, US military officials never miss an opportunity to present these developments as an alarming trend.

Admiral Cecil D. Haney, Commander of US Strategic Command, recently confirmed that in late 2015 China successfully launched a rocket carrying a record 20 micro-satellites, as well as tested hypersonic and anti-satellite weapons as part of its rapidly developing space program.

"China, like Russia, has advanced 'directed energy' capabilities that could be used to track or blind satellites, and like Russia, has demonstrated the ability to perform complex maneuvers in space," Haney said speaking at the Center for a New American Security on Friday. He also described Beijing's space program as "the most rapidly maturing" one globally, citing the 2015 Annual Report to US Congress.

In total, Beijing, according to Haney, has conducted six successful tests of long-range high-speed precision strike weapons, also known as hypersonic glide vehicles (HGV).

The latest test took place on November 23. The HGV, according to defense expert Bill Gertz, was "launched atop a ballistic missile" fired from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Center (TSLC) in China's northern province of Shanxi. The glider, referred to as DF-ZF, is reported to have travelled at an extremely high speed (up to Mach 10) along the edge of space.

According to some estimates, China's hypersonic weapons could enter service in less than a decade.

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