China conducted a new space test with a hypersonic missile in orbit last August, according to the Financial Times (FT). The article, which cites sources who were aware of the test, indicates that Beijing launched a nuclear-capable missile in August that circled the Earth in low orbit before descending towards its target, from which it fell to more than 32. kilometers away, according to three sources in the newspaper.
The hypersonic glider was carried by a Long March rocket, the launches of which are generally announced, while the August test was kept secret. China’s progress in the hypersonic weapons sector “took US intelligence by surprise,” according to the article. “The test showed that China has made astonishing progress on hypersonic weapons and that it is much more advanced than US officials believed,” the information states, citing intelligence briefers.
In addition to China, the United States, Russia and at least five other countries are working on hypersonic technology. Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear weapons, can fly at more than five times the speed of sound. Last month, North Korea said it had tested a newly developed hypersonic missile. At a 2019 parade, China displayed its advances in weaponry, including its hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17. Meanwhile, Russia claimed on October 4 that it had successfully launched a hypersonic missile (the Zircon) from a submarine in the Arctic.
Ballistic missiles fly high in space in an arc to hit their target, while a hypersonic missile takes a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially hitting its target faster. A hypersonic missile is maneuverable, which makes it more difficult to track and counter.
Countries like the United States have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, but the ability to track and shoot down a hypersonic missile is unknown.
China has developed the technology in an offensive manner, considering it crucial to defend against US advances in this type of weapon and others, according to a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS).
Join now EL PAÍS to follow all the news and read without limits
The test related by the FT It comes at a time when tensions between the United States and China have intensified and Beijing has accentuated military activities near Taiwan, aligned with Washington and which Beijing considers a province awaiting reunification.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request from the agency France Presse to comment on the article. Financial Times. Nor did the Chinese Defense Ministry immediately react to a request for comment sent by Reuters on Sunday.
Follow all the international information at Facebook and Twitter, o en our weekly newsletter.