Report: China Tests a New Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

The Long March 2F rocket taking off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Beijing has been ramping up its investments in space technology, especially with the recent test of a hypersonic vehicle

Andy Wong/AP

AA Font size + Print

The Long March 2F rocket taking off from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center in northwest China. Beijing has been ramping up its investments in space technology, especially with the recent test of a hypersonic vehicle

China has reportedly tested a hypersonic glide vehicle that appears to be designed for mounting on intercontinental ballistic missiles. By Global Security Newswire

Earlier this month, China carried out a maiden flight test of a new hypersonic vehicle that could be used on its ICBMs, theWashington Free Beacon reports.

Anonymous U.S. Defense Department officials said the test over China of the developmental glide vehicle, which they are calling the WU-14, took place on Jan. 9.

The WU-14 seems to be designed for mounting on intercontinental ballistic missiles. When the hypersonic vehicle detaches from the missile, it could travel as fast as Mach 10 from near space on the way to striking its target, officials said.

Department spokesman Marine Corps. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool confirmed that the test took place, but would not share details with the Free Beacon.

We don’t comment on our intelligence assessments of foreign weapon systems,” the spokesman said in released comments. “We encourage greater transparency [by China] regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation.”

A trio of senior Republican lawmakers on the House Armed Services Committee on Monday criticized the hypersonic test and warned that U.S. defense spending reductions risked allowing Beijing to gain a strategic edge over the United States.

(Related: It’s Becoming Too Expensive for the Military to Go Into Space)

“While round after round of defense cuts have knocked America’s technological advantage on its back, the Chinese and other competitor nations push towards military parity with the United States; in some cases, as in this one, they appear to be leaping ahead of us,” Representatives Buck McKeon (Calif.), Randy Forbes (Va.) and Mike Rogers (Ala.) said in a statement.

Mark Stokes, a China strategic weapons researcher with the Project 2049 Institute, told theFree Beacon that the tested hypersonic craft is probably meant to be launched from a missile in its post-boost phase and likely “would be intended to counter existing midcourse missile defenses.”

The United States and Russia have their own conventional hypersonic weapon programs. The U.S. military in 2011 briefly tested a hypersonic vehicle at 20 times the speed of sound before it crashed into the ocean, though flight trials of other technologies at lesser hypersonic speeds have proceeded successfully. Moscow has said it expects to begin fielding hypersonic weapons that could travel at Mach 5 speeds or faster between 2018 and 2025.

India also is working on a hypersonic version of its Brahmos missile that could be capable of traveling between five and seven times the speed of sound.

Lora Saalman, who studies Chinese nuclear strategy for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, in an e-mail said there are indications that the Chinese government is seeking super-fast weapons with a more constrained range that would likely be equipped with conventional warheads, though they also could have an atomic capability.

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Ongoing Efforts in Veterans Health Care Modernization

    This report discusses the current state of veterans health care

  • Modernizing IT for Mission Success

    Surveying Federal and Defense Leaders on Priorities and Challenges at the Tactical Edge

  • Top 5 Findings: Security of Internet of Things To Be Mission-Critical

    As federal agencies increasingly leverage these capabilities, government security stakeholders now must manage and secure a growing number of devices, including those being used remotely at the “edge” of networks in a variety of locations. With such security concerns in mind, Government Business Council undertook an indepth research study of federal government leaders in January 2017. Here are five of the key takeaways below which, taken together, paint a portrait of a government that is increasingly cognizant and concerned for the future security of IoT.

  • Coordinating Incident Response on Posts, Camps and Stations

    Effective incident response on posts, camps, and stations is an increasingly complex challenge. An effective response calls for seamless conversations between multiple stakeholders on the base and beyond its borders with civilian law enforcement and emergency services personnel. This whitepaper discusses what a modern dispatch solution looks like -- one that brings together diverse channels and media, simplifies the dispatch environment and addresses technical integration challenges to ensure next generation safety and response on Department of Defense posts, camps and stations.

  • Forecasting Cloud's Future

    Conversations with Federal, State, and Local Technology Leaders on Cloud-Driven Digital Transformation


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.