China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, The Financial Times reported.
The test shows China has advanced space capability that “caught US intelligence by surprise,” the outlet reported.
Citing five people “familiar with the test,” the report said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle, which flew through low-orbit space before cruising toward its target.
It missed the target by about two-dozen miles, but shows China’s “astounding progress” on hypersonic weapons, the report said.
The U.S., Russia and China have all been working on hypersonic weapons. Russia tested one such missile in July. The US plans to outfit all of the Navy’s destroyers with these missiles, which can travel five times faster than the speed of sound. That makes them slower than some existing ballistic missiles, but unlike the older technology, hypersonic missiles can be controlled after launch, making it easier to evade defense systems.
The Pentagon did not comment on the report.
“We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond,” Defense Department spokesman John Kirby told the Financial Times. “That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge.”
Liu Pengyu, a spokesperson for the Chinese Embassy in London, said the country’s military policy was “defensive in nature.”
“We don’t have a global strategy and plans of military operations like the US does,” Liu said. “And we are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries.”