China’s hypersonic weapon test near ‘Sputnik moment’, senior US general says – .

China’s hypersonic weapon test near ‘Sputnik moment’, senior US general says – .

The senior US military officer confirmed that China recently tested an advanced hypersonic weapon, calling it a “very important” development to which Washington was paying close attention.

Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the nuclear-capable weapon test was close to a “Sputnik moment” – referring to the start of the space race between the United States. United States and the Soviet Union when the first satellite was launched by Moscow in 1957.

“What we saw was a very important event in a test of a hypersonic weapon system. This is very concerning, ”Milley told Bloomberg TV.

“I don’t know if it’s a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It is therefore a very important technological event or test that has taken place by the Chinese, and it has our full attention, ”he added.

Milley is the first official to confirm a Financial Times report that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon. On July 27, he launched a hypersonic glide vehicle – which travels at more than five times the speed of sound and can maneuver like the space shuttle – on a rocket.

The Long March rocket entered lower Earth orbit before the gliding vehicle at some point detached itself, re-entered the atmosphere, and headed for its target. It was the first time that a country had sent a hypersonic weapon entirely around Earth.

The vehicle missed its target by approximately 24 miles. But three people familiar with the test intelligence who spoke to the FT said the Chinese weapons system at one point demonstrated very advanced capability – shocking the Pentagon because US military scientists don’t understand how it worked. been accomplished.

China used a technology called the “orbital bombardment system” to send the vehicle around the planet. The rocket system follows a lower trajectory than an intercontinental ballistic missile, making it more difficult for early warning systems to detect. It can also fly over the South Pole, while most US missile defense systems target attacks over the North Pole.

The FT also reported that China conducted a second secret hypersonic weapons test on August 13.

Members of Congress called on the Pentagon to notify them of the launches. The tests came after top U.S. commanders warned for months about the rapid expansion of China’s nuclear forces.

Admiral Charles Richard, who oversees US nuclear forces as head of strategic command, told Congress in April that China was engaged in a “remarkable expansion” of its nuclear forces and aimed to become a nuclear peer of here the end of the decade. Commercially obtained satellite images then revealed that China was building hundreds of silos to house its land-based ICBMs.

The revelations come as the Biden administration conducts a “nuclear posture review” that will decide the future of US nuclear forces. Mike Gallagher, a Republican lawmaker, said he hopes the July 27 test will alert the administration to the potential threat from China.

“The Biden administration has said it wants to reduce the role of US nuclear forces in our defense capabilities. This is exactly the opposite of what the Chinese Communist Party is doing, ”Gallagher told the FT. “I hope General Milley shares with the President his concerns about this test, as we cannot afford to fall asleep at the wheel for a second longer. “

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