‘No idea how they did this!’ US fear after China tests nuclear-capable hypersonic missile

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The advanced space capability caught US intelligence by surprise. According to the Financial TImes, Five people who were familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket which carried a hypersonic glide vehicle.

The vehicle flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.

However, the missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence.

Two others commented that the progress on hypersonic weapons was far more advanced than US officials realised.

A fourth person said: “We have no idea how they did this.”

Fravel, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the FT: “Hypersonic glide vehicles . . . fly at lower trajectories and can manoeuvre in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy.”

Fravel commented it would be “destabilising” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon in the future.

However, he suggested a test did not necessarily mean Beijing would deploy the capability.

The comments on China’s latest military test come amid surging military tensions and activity around Taiwan.

Chinese fighter jets and combat ships have conducted almost daily joint assault drills to invade Taiwan’s Air Defence Identification Zone.

In September, Taiwan conducted biowarfare defence drills amid fears China could have weaponised a number of deadly pathogens including coronaviruses.

The simulation drills come amid fears China has spent decades researching biological weapons and may already possess deadly “bacteria bombs” using their stockpiles of anthrax and coronaviruses.

US military officials have also warned about China’s increasing nuclear capabilities, especially after the release of satellite imagery which showed it was building more than 200 intercontinental missile silos.

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Frank Kendall, US air force secretary, suggested China was developing a new weapon. He said China had made huge advances, including the “potential for global strikes . . . from space.”

He did not give exact details but inferred China was developing something akin to the “Fractional Orbital Bombardment System.”

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