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China Conducts First Test of New Ultra-High Speed Missile Vehicle

: Jan 24, 2014 - : 12:25 pm

china-hypersonic

China’s military last week conducted the first flight test of a new ultra-high speed missile vehicle aimed at delivering warheads through U.S. missile defenses, Pentagon officials said.

The test of the new hypersonic glide vehicle was carried out January 9 and the experimental weapon is being dubbed the WU-14 by the Pentagon.

The hypersonic vehicle represents a major step forward in China’s secretive strategic nuclear and conventional military and missile programs.

The new hypersonic vehicle was detected traveling at extremely high speeds during the flight test over China, said officials who discussed some details of the test.

The hypersonic craft appears designed to be launched atop one of China’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, and then glides and maneuvers at speeds of up to 10 times the speed of sound from near space en route to its target, the officials said.

A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the test but declined to provide details.

“We routinely monitor foreign defense activities and we are aware of this test,” Marine Corps Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, the spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon.

“However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon systems,” Pool said in a statement. “We encourage greater transparency [by the People’s Republic of China] regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation,” he added.

The United States, Russia, and China are all engaged in a hypersonic arms race. All three nations are developing high-speed aerospace vehicles. India is also developing a hypersonic variant of its BrahMos cruise missile.

Hypersonic weapons use cutting edge technology for flying and maneuvering at ultra-high speeds in space and air. Future weapons will include powered and unpowered hypersonic vehicles fired from the last stages of ICBMs and submarine missiles, and from the bomb-bays of strategic bombers. Hypersonic cruise missiles and surveillance drones also are expected.

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