Representative image of a hypersonic missile Photograph:( AFP )
US intelligence officials were caught by surprise after China tested new space capability with a hypersonic missile in August. Beijing launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that circled the Earth at low orbit before descending towards its target, a report said. The hypersonic glide vehicle was carried by a Long March rocket
After the Chinese tested new space capability with a hypersonic missile, US intelligence officials were caught by surprise, a report said.
According to a Financial Times report on Saturday, China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the Earth at low orbit before descending towards its target. The hypersonic glide vehicle was carried by a Long March rocket.
The report cited multiple sources familiar with the test. Sources also said it missed by over 20 miles (32 kilometers).
China had made "astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised," the report cited sources as saying.
John Kirby, press secretary, Department of Defense, said the United States sees China as the No. 1 "pacing challenge" as the two countries work towards developing hypersonic weapons.
"We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond," Kirby added.
This missile can deliver nuclear weapons and fly at more than five times the speed of sound. It is maneuverable, which makes it harder to detect and defend against. Apart from China, some other countries are also working on this technology.
Liu Pengyu, a spokesman for China, said the country has no global strategy or plans of military operations.
"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 the arms race in this category and severely undermined global strategic stability,” Liu said.
(With inputs from agencies)