Pentagon: "China testing nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles, our number one pacing challenge."

Military News Editor
Associated Press

Saturday, China tested a space-capable hypersonic missile, first reported by the Financial Times.

Beijing in August launched a nuclear-capable missile that circled the Earth at low orbit before descending toward its target, which three sources said it missed by over 20 miles (32 kilometers). The hypersonic glide vehicle carried by a Long March rocket was kept secrete until after the launch.

The report added that China’s progress on hypersonic weapons “caught US intelligence by surprise.”

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said he would not comment on the specifics of the report. Still, he added: “We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond. That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge.”
Pentagon spokesman John KirbyPentagon Press

Financial Times says US intelligence officials reportedly caught by surprise by Beijing’s progress on weapons; Pentagon: ‘We hold China as our number one pacing challenge’

Hypersonic missiles can fly at more than five times the speed of sound. A hypersonic flies on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, potentially reaching a target more quickly.

Most important, a hypersonic missile is maneuverable (like the much slower, often subsonic cruise missile), making it harder to track and defend against.

While countries like the United States have developed systems designed to defend against cruise and ballistic missiles, the ability to track and take down a hypersonic missile remains a question.

According to a recent US Congressional Research Service (CRS) report, China has been aggressively developing the technology.

The reported test comes as US-China tensions have mounted and Beijing has stepped up military activity near Taiwan.

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