The hypersonic weapon test saw the country fire a missile from another spacecraft that was already flying at least five times the speed of sound, according to the report. Such a technology was previously considered impossible and US experts do not know how China actually performed the test, he said.
Although the test took place in July and was reported closer to the time, the nature of the breakthrough was first revealed in a new report from the Financial Time. The article reports that experts looked at the data to try to understand how China was able to build the technology – as well as what exactly the missile was intended to do.
In the test, China first launched what it calls a hypersonic or heavy-duty glide vehicle, which is sent into space mounted on a rocket, before re-entering the atmosphere and flying. towards its target at more than five times the speed of sound. Heavyweights can function as weapons on their own because they travel so fast, but China is said to be using them as a means of transporting other missiles as well.
The heavyweight was then able to launch a separate missile, which detached into the atmosphere over the South China Sea, according to the new report. It does not appear to have been sent to a target, and instead fell into the water, the FT reported – which only adds to the confusion for US experts.
This makes it more difficult to know what the missile may have been created for. Some suggest it could be used to destroy missile defense systems that could attempt to stop the hypersonic weapon if used in wartime, for example.
While Russia and the United States have been working on their own similar technologies, a successful test of this type would suggest that China is far ahead of both.