LONDON (BLOOMBERG) – China fired a missile from a hypersonic weapon as it approached a target during a test in July, the Financial Times reported, adding the Pentagon was surprised because no nation was known to have the capability.
A hypersonic glide vehicle launched by China fired the projectile over the South China Sea while moving at five times the speed of sound, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the intelligence.
Some military experts believe an air-to-air missile was fired, the newspaper said. Others thought it was a countermeasure that could hurt the ability of missile defence systems to knock out the hypersonic weapon, which can carry a nuclear warhead, in a battle.
The Financial Times reported last month that China conducted hypersonic weapons tests on July 27 and again on Aug 13, raising concern in Washington about Beijing’s advancing military capabilities.
China’s Foreign Ministry said the nation had tested “a routine spacecraft” to see if it was reusable.
If China’s tests of hypersonic weapons are confirmed, it would suggest that Beijing may be exploring orbital strikes as a way to counter American advancements in shooting down ballistic missiles before they can threaten the US homeland.
Last year, the US Navy successfully intercepted a mock intercontinental ballistic missile.