A new investigative report by the Financial Times asserted that China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, which circled the earth in a low orbit before cruising toward and narrowly missing a test target. The Chinese regime has officially denied the report’s findings, saying that the object in question was a spaceship.
U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said that Washington is concerned about China’s possible deployment of hypersonic weaponry, and said the United States hadn’t developed a means of countering it.
“Hypersonic technology is something that we have been concerned about, the potential military applications of it and we have held back from pursuing, we had held back from pursuing military applications for this technology,” Wood said at a press meeting in Geneva on Oct. 18.
“But we have seen China and Russia pursuing very actively the use, the militarization of this technology, so we are just having to respond in kind … We just don’t know how we can defend against that technology. Neither does China, neither does Russia.”
A Weapon Without Rebuttal
The Financial Times report, which cited five people familiar with the matter, and China’s subsequent rebuttal created a furor in parts of the U.S. intelligence community, which appeared unprepared for the news that China was so far into its efforts to develop hypersonic capabilities. Others were less surprised, however.
“Hypersonic weapons research and development has been underway in China for decades,” said Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center. “In 2019, the People’s Liberation Army revealed the first medium-range HGV [hypersonic glide vehicle] weapon, its DF-17 HGV-armed missile system.”
“Thus, reports that China has combined a HGV strike system with a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) must be taken very seriously.”
HGVs are highly maneuverable vehicles that skip or “glide” their way to a target after being brought to low orbit by a rocket booster. FOBS is a system first theorized in the Soviet Union, in which a missile enters low orbit before striking its target, rather than arcing out of orbit before coming back to the surface.