China is putting the US on blast following a report that it launched a hypersonic missile into orbit — ridiculing America’s sense of “strategic superiority.”
The recent launch of the nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle into low-orbit, first reported in the Financial Times on Saturday, caught the US intelligence community by surprise.
“We have no idea how they did this,” a person familiar with the test told the publication.
In an editorial Sunday in the Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, China wouldn’t confirm the Financial Times report, but noted that “the US generally has the ability to monitor global missile launches.”
“If the FT report is to be believed, it means that there is a key new member in China’s nuclear deterrence system, which is a new blow to the US’ mentality of strategic superiority over China,” the piece added.
“It is important to note the unstoppable trend that China is narrowing the gap with the US in some key military technologies as China is continuously developing its economic and technological strength. China doesn’t need to engage in an ‘arms race’ with the US – it is capable of weakening the US’ overall advantages over China by developing military power at its own pace,” the editorial said.
The report pointed out that hypersonic weapons travel at low altitude, allowing them to be maneuvered in flight, lessens the likelihood that they will be detected, and increases the likelihood that they will hit their target more quickly.
Ballistic missiles, on the other hand, fly in a high arc into space before reentering the atmosphere.
The hypersonic missile, which was launched in August, orbited the globe but missed its target by a couple of dozen miles.
“We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby told the Financial Times. “That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge.”
The US, Russia and China have all been working on hypersonic weapons.
Russia tested one such missile in July. The US plans to outfit all of the Navy’s destroyers with these missiles.
The development comes amid escalating tensions between Washington and Beijing over China’s military buildup in the South China Sea and the possibility that it may seek to take Taiwan by force.
At the same time, the US and its allies ramped up naval operations in the region to challenge China’s territorial claims over the waterway.
Earlier this month, China’s People Liberation Army planes violated Taiwan’s airspace.
China, which considers the island a rogue province and part of its territory, said in the editorial that it didn’t want to engage in an “arms race” with the US but would concentrate on bolstering its military presence near Taiwan.
“China’s military buildup will focus on the Taiwan Straits and the South China Sea. It is inevitable that China will take an upper hand over the US military strength in these areas thanks to the geographical proximity and the continuous increase of China’s input,” the editorial said.
“Chinese society has not only strong expectations for this, but also strong determination and corresponding ability to realize this reversal. The US’ conventional military superiority around the world will not translate into a guarantee of superiority in these regions,” it continued.
Taylor Fravel, a Chinese nuclear weapons expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said the use of a nuclear-armed hypersonic glide vehicle could help China “negate” US missile defense systems.
“Hypersonic glide vehicles . . . fly at lower trajectories and can maneuver in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy,” Fravel told the Financial Times.
With Post wires