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 DefenseOne.com.
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

    Download
  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

    Download
  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

    Download
  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

    Download
  • 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.

    Download

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