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:

  • Federal IT Applications: Assessing Government's Core Drivers

    In order to better understand the current state of external and internal-facing agency workplace applications, Government Business Council (GBC) and Riverbed undertook an in-depth research study of federal employees. Overall, survey findings indicate that federal IT applications still face a gamut of challenges with regard to quality, reliability, and performance management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • GBC Issue Brief: Supply Chain Insecurity

    Federal organizations rely on state-of-the-art IT tools and systems to deliver services efficiently and effectively, and it takes a vast ecosystem of organizations, individuals, information, and resources to successfully deliver these products. This issue brief discusses the current threats to the vulnerable supply chain - and how agencies can prevent these threats to produce a more secure IT supply chain process.

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


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