The Chinese military was said to have launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe in August
Image: VCG via Getty Images)
China tested a terrifying nuclear-capable hypersonic missile which orbited the globe before returning to Earth, reportedly taking US intelligence officials by surprise.
The Chinese military was said to have launched a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that flew through low-orbit space, circling the globe.
It then cruised towards its target, which it missed by about two dozen miles.
A report, citing five unnamed intelligence sources, said the military had launched its Long March rocket in August.
The report said: “The test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised.”
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First reported in the Financial Times one individual familiar with the test told the publication: “We have no idea how they did this.”
A spokesperson for the Chinese embassy, Liu Pengyu, was reported to have said that China always pursued a military policy that was “defensive in nature” and the military development did not target any country.
Liu told the Financial Times: “We don’t have a global strategy and plans of military operations like the US does. And we are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries.
“In contrast, the US has in recent years been fabricating excuses like ‘the China threat’ to justify its arms expansion and development of hypersonic weapons. This has directly intensified arms race in this category and severely undermined global strategic stability.”
The US and Russia have been developing hypersonic missiles, and last month North Korea said it had test-fired a newly-developed missile.
At a 2019 parade, China showcased advancing weaponry including its hypersonic missile, known as the DF-17.
Ballistic missiles fly into outer space before returning on steep trajectories at higher speeds.
Hypersonic weapons are difficult to defend against because they fly towards targets at lower altitudes but can achieve more than five times the speed of sound – or about 6,200 km per hour (3,850 mph).