China was able to launch a projectile from a missile that flies at the speed of sound, an “unprecedented” achievement, according to US officials who spoke to the American Wall Street Journal, which said that this achievement “moves the boundaries of physics.” According to what was reported by Al-Hurra channel.
And the “Wall Street Journal” added, quoting unidentified US officials, that this step shows that China’s capabilities are greater than what is known so far.
China is expanding its ability to develop weapons that can be launched from hypersonic missiles, suggesting that this summer’s experiment that surprised US military officials with its technological achievement is part of a program to create new threats to US missile defenses, according to the newspaper.
Beijing denied at the time that it was a missile test, and said it had tested a reusable spacecraft, according to AFP.
But the Chief of Staff of the US Army, General Mark Milley, spoke a few days later of a “very important test of a supersonic weapon system”, without specifying the date of the test.
He likened the matter to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, the first artificial satellite in October 1957, which surprised the United States, and represented the starting point for the race to conquer space.
The missile projectile is a warhead placed on the tip of a long-range missile, and once launched it flies to its target in an unpredictable trajectory, making it difficult to intercept, according to AFP.
Experts do not yet know the nature of the projectile that was fired in the experiment, and landed in the sea, according to what was reported by the British newspaper “Financial Times”.
Some experts believe that the secondary projectile is an air-to-air missile, while others see its function as camouflage to protect the larger missile, in the event of a threat.
The Chinese government’s Aerodynamics Research Institute said it wanted to open a “wind tunnel” capable of simulating the speeds and high temperatures experienced by hypersonic missiles.
No other country has demonstrated the ability to launch ultrasonic glide vehicle projectiles.
Missile experts said that doing this is a major technical challenge, because the launch takes place while the vehicle is traveling at about five times the speed of sound, which means that the projectile is immediately subjected to very high pressure and heat.
“Until the data is released, the experiment is still somewhat opaque,” said Melissa Hanham, a missile technology expert who previously taught at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey.
US military officials acknowledge that Washington’s program to develop supersonic weapons lags behind China’s.
Over the past five years, the United States has conducted nine hypersonic tests, while China has launched hundreds, according to General John Hyten of the Air Force, who until recently was the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
China already has hundreds of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, which include missiles that can fire up to 12 warheads at different targets.
“I think China is concerned about the future of US missile defense,” including potential space-based interceptors, said Zhao Tong, a nuclear weapons expert at the Beijing-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.