4 thoughts on “China’s hypersonic missile

  1. shinichi Post author

    China’s hypersonic missile: Could it spark a new arms race?

    by Jonathan Marcus


    The news that China had tested a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile was described by some as a game-changer that stunned US officials. So how big a deal is this, asks Jonathan Marcus of the Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter.

    Twice in the summer, the Chinese military launched a rocket into space that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.

    On the first occasion, it missed its target by about 24 miles (40 km), according to people briefed on the intelligence speaking to the Financial Times, which broke the story.

    While some US politicians and commentators were alarmed at China’s apparent progress, Beijing was quick to deny the report, insisting that this was in fact the test of a re-usable spacecraft.

    China’s denial is “an act of obfuscation” says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-Proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, because the story has been confirmed by US officials speaking to other media.

    And he finds the claim that China tested an orbital bombardment system [FOB] both “technically plausible and strategically reasonable for Beijing”.


    What are ICBMs and FOBS?

    1. An ICBM is a long-range missile that leaves the earth’s atmosphere before re-entry, pursuing a parabolic trajectory towards its target
    2. A Fractional Orbital Bombardment System sends missiles through a partial orbit around the earth to strike targets from an unexpected direction


    Both the FT story and the Chinese denial could be right, says Aaron Stein, director of research at the Foreign Policy Institute in Philadelphia.

    “A reusable space plane is a hypersonic glider. It just lands. A FOB system delivered via some sort of glider would do much of the same thing as a reusable space plane, so I think the actual differences between the two stories is marginal.”

    Indeed over recent months a number of senior US officials have hinted at this kind of Chinese development.

    FOB systems are not by any means new.

    The idea was pursued by the Soviet Union during the Cold War and is now seemingly being revived by China. The idea is for a weapon that enters a partial orbit around the earth to strike targets from an unexpected direction.

    What China appears to have done is to combine the FOBS technology with a hypersonic glider – they glide along the outer edge of the atmosphere avoiding radar and missile defences – into a new system. But why?

    “Beijing fears that the United States will use a combination of modernised nuclear forces and missile defences to take away their nuclear deterrent,” says Mr Lewis.

    “If the US were to strike Beijing first, which we publicly retain the option of doing, the missile defence system in Alaska might be able to handle the small number of China’s nuclear weapons that survive.”

    All the major nuclear players are developing hypersonic systems but view them differently, says Aaron Stein. And these differing points of view, he argues, feed into the other sides’ paranoia, fuelling the arms race.

    Both Beijing and Moscow view hypersonics as a means to ensure the defeat of missile defences, he believes. But in contrast, the US plans to use them to strike so-called hard targets like things that support nuclear command and control, using conventional or non-nuclear warheads.

    Some advocates of rapid US nuclear modernisation have seen the recent Chinese tests as “a Sputnik moment” a reference to the surprise and alarm registered in the US at the Soviet Union’s first orbital satellite in the late 1950s.

    But some experts would disagree and don’t believe this test by China creates a new threat. James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace says the US has been vulnerable to nuclear attack by China since at least the 1980s.

    But he thinks intensive Chinese, Russian and North Korean programmes to defeat US missile defences should prompt the US to reconsider whether treaties that impose limits on such defences are, after all, in the US interest.

    Mr Lewis stresses that the important thing now is for the US to draw the right conclusions.

    “I fear this is much more like 9/11 where in the aftermath of the surprise and reeling from a mix of fear and vulnerability, we embarked on a series of disastrous foreign policy decisions that made us far less safe.

    “In fact, one of the things that we did was to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile or ABM Treaty, which is far more responsible for China’s development of this system than anything else.”

    America’s potential adversaries are all seeking to modernise and upgrade their nuclear weaponry.

    China’s arsenal, though, is still dwarfed by that of the United States. But concerns about US missile defences and conventional precision long-range strike systems are all pushing it to develop a larger and more diverse nuclear arsenal.

    North Korea too is seeking to modernise and refine its nuclear capability, not least, as Ankit Panda of the Carnegie Endowment notes, to secure added leverage in future diplomacy.

    “For a few years now,” he says, “they’ve demanded to be treated by the United States as an equal and see the development of ever-more-advanced nuclear and missile capabilities as one way to earn that respect.”

    It all contributes to a growing nuclear headache for the Biden administration.

    The collapse of much of the existing fabric of arms control agreements inherited from the Cold War does not help. Neither do the growing tensions with both Moscow and Beijing.

    In Ankit Panda’s view, the single most meaningful thing the United States could do to stem and slow the ongoing arms race is to discuss limitations on strategic missile defences, as it did during the Cold War.

    “Putting missile defence on the table”‘ he says, “would allow Washington to extract meaningful concessions from Russia and China. It would additionally dissuade each from pursuing costly, convoluted, and dangerous means to deliver nuclear weapons.”

  2. shinichi Post author

    Chinese missile launch very concerning, says top US general

    28 October 2021


    The top US general has said China’s suspected hypersonic missile test is close to a Sputnik moment, referring to the Soviet satellite launch that sparked a Cold War arms race.

    Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley said in an interview with Bloomberg News that the Chinese military was “expanding rapidly”.

    The Financial Times reports that the test stunned the US military.

    Beijing denies any missile test, saying instead it was a spacecraft.

    “What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Gen Milley told Bloomberg.

    “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”

    His comment is the first official acknowledgement by the US of claims that China conducted two missile tests over the summer. Reports indicate that it was a nuclear-capable missile that could evade US air defence systems.

    The 1957 Soviet satellite launch of Sputnik shocked Americans, who feared the Soviets were pulling ahead in technological ability.

    The event spurred President John F Kennedy to declare the US would land men on the Moon, a goal achieved in less than a decade.

    Pentagon spokesman John Kirby refused to comment on the general’s remarks, saying: “This is not a technology that is alien to us, that we haven’t been thinking about for a while.”

    He added that the US was working to strengthen defence systems and pursuing its own hypersonic capabilities.

    Hypersonic missiles are capable of travelling at five times the speed of sound.

    They are considered more manoeuvrable than conventional missiles and more capable of avoiding interception from air defence.

    Last week the US conducted three hypersonic missile tests at a Nasa facility in Virginia.

    The tests will be used to “inform the development” of future hypersonic missiles, US officials said.

    Gen Milley also warned that the Chinese military had grown “from a peasant-based infantry army that was very, very large in 1979 to a very capable military that covers all the domains and has global ambitions”.

    According to CNN, CIA Director Bill Burns described China last week as the greatest technological threat to the United States. Earlier this month he said the spy agency would boost its efforts towards China.

    President Joe Biden’s White House has characterised the US-Chinese relationship as one of “strategic competition”.

    Gen Milley last month faced calls to resign and was accused of treasonous behaviour after it was reported that he had assured his Chinese counterpart in the last days of the Trump administration that the US would not launch a nuclear strike.

    The chairman of the joint chiefs of staff later said the calls were “perfectly within the duties and responsibilities” of his job.

  3. shinichi Post author



    by David E. Sanger, William J. Broad
    The New York Times





















  4. shinichi Post author





    先前媒体推测东风-17搭载的战术弹头很可能是早前曝光的WU-14高超音速飞行器,后者从2014年起陆续进行过6次发射实验。WU-14从地面搭载火箭发射后,与火箭助推器分离,然后再入大气层进行无动力高速飞行。据称其速度高达10马赫(约12,359公里/小时)。 近日有媒体认为,东风-17采用的是大气层内起滑技术:导弹在上升到预定高度后关闭发动机,依靠自身重力实现转弯,使用火箭发动机横向加速达到滑翔速度后开始滑翔,使对手无法从远距离对其进行侦测。萨德克星是东风17型导弹专为美国战区反导系统开发的可以预期构筑中国的快速打击体系。另有媒体报道:根据东风-17以往的试射时间和距离计算,其飞行速度高达6800米/秒(20马赫)。



    2020年3月,美国国防部提出加快常规武装高超音速滑翔飞行器(HGV)的发展,以跟上中国的发展步伐。前美国国防部主官發展與工程的副部长迈克尔·格里芬(英語:Michael Griffin)向美國众议院軍事委員會提出,美国需要开发高超音速武器以“让我们能够与我们的对手匹敌”。


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