THE China tested a new space capability by launching an ultrasonic rocket into orbit, the Financial Times wrote yesterday.
According to the report of the British mainly financial newspaper, which cites several informed sources, the test took place in August and launched a rocket capable of carrying a nuclear warhead, which orbited the Earth before launching its descent toward its target, but failed by more than 32 kilometers, according to three Financial Times sources.
Always according to the newspaper sources, the weapon system was put into orbit by a missile type Great Course. The launching of such missiles is generally announced, but this one in August was kept secret.
China’s progress in the field of supersonic weapons “Occupies US intelligence services with hexapine”, according to the Financial Times.
Beyond Beijing, The United States, Russia, and at least five other countries are known to work on ultrasonic technology.
Ultrasonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads, can fly at five times the speed of sound.
But ballistic missiles fly high, as far as space, and make an elliptical orbit to hit their targets, while supersonic missiles can fly in low orbit in the atmosphere and potentially hit their targets faster.
Above all, supersonic missiles can maneuver – like cruise (“cruise”) missiles, which are much slower, often subsonic – making them much more difficult to monitor and deal with.
Countries such as the United States have developed ballistic missile and cruise missile defense systems, but whether they are capable of defending themselves against supersonic missiles is unknown.
China is developing technology aggressively, as it sees it as crucial to defending itself against US advances in ultrasound and other technologies, according to a recent study by the Congressional Research Service (CRS).
The test becomes known as US-Chinese tensions escalate, with Beijing stepping up its military activity around Taiwan, an autonomous democratic island aligned with Washington that China sees as a breakaway province destined to reunite with the country.
The Pentagon did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the Financial Times.