China has reportedly tested new deadly weapons with the launch of its hypersonic missile.
The terrifying weapon pushes the boundaries of missile technology and has been a shock to the US intelligence services.
The Financial Times reports that Beijing launched the 'Long March' rocket in August carrying a 'hypersonic glide vehicle' into low orbit.
The missile missed its target by over 32km, but the technology demonstrated by China’s weaponry is thought to be far more than developed than the US officials realised.
The nuclear weapon which showed the ‘astonishing progress’ that China have made on the development of its hypersonic weapons caught the US intelligence services by surprise, as the US is one eight nations producing their own hypersonic weapons.
What is a hypersonic missile?
Hypersonic missiles can carry nuclear weapons and reach speeds of up to 21,000mph.
They can strike anywhere on Earth from space within minutes.
These weapons, which are launched into space on a rocket, orbit the earth under their own momentum, flying five times faster than the speed of sound.
Though slower than a ballistic missile, the hypersonic weapons can be manoeuvred easily and don’t follow a fixed path making them very difficult to track.
Why are these missiles dangerous?
Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons policy, told the Financial Times that a hypersonic glide vehicle armed with a nuclear warhead could help China overcome the US anti-ballistic missile defence systems in Alaska, striking the US from the south.
Fravel added that it would be “destabilising” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon.
What was the reaction to the missile launch?
Tensions have been rising between China and the US.
The test launch of the hypersonic missiles have added to growing concerns about China’s nuclear capabilities, a person familiar with the test told the Financial Times, “We have no idea how they did this.”
But this not the first mention of China’s military modernisation in recent times.
In August, General Glen VanHerck, head of North American Aerospace Defense Command also told a conference that China had “recently demonstrated very advanced hypersonic glide vehicle capabilities”.
Last month, US air force secretary Frank Kendall, hinted that Beijing was developing a new weapon with the “potential for global strikes from space,” though he declined to give more information.
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