China Denies Testing Nuclear-Capable Hypersonic Missile, Says It Was Space Vehicle Trial
09:23 GMT 18.10.2021 (Updated: 11:07 GMT 18.10.2021)
© PLA DailyChinese missile testing
© PLA Daily
The Financial Times earlier reported that the test of the alleged hypersonic glider vehicle by China this summer "caught the US government by surprise" as it purportedly demonstrated the great progress achieved by Beijing in this area.
China did not carry out a test of hypersonic weapons, but instead carried out a trial of a spacecraft, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian has stated. Zhao Lijian added that it was a "routine test" for reusable space rocket technology.
The American company SpaceX successfully tested similar technology with the goal of reducing the costs of space travel and of sending cargo into orbit. According to the Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Beijing also hopes that the technology tested this summer will "provide a cheap and convenient method for humans to peacefully travel to and from space".
US Reportedly 'Caught by Surprise' by Test
The newspaper, the Financial Times, reported last Saturday that the US intelligence community was "caught by surprise" by China's alleged test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile this summer. The missile purportedly carried a hypersonic glide vehicle that made a full circle around the globe, travelling via low Earth orbit before landing.
The FT claimed the test took place in August, but Zhao Lijian insists it actually happened in July.
The newspaper claimed that the weapon missed its designated target by about two-dozen miles, but nonetheless demonstrated the "astounding progress" that Beijing had made in developing hypersonic armaments, which are believed to be more capable of penetrating ground missile defences than regular ballistic missiles.
The Financial Times pointed at the possibility of the alleged Chinese hypersonic missile flying over the South Pole before hitting US territory. Washington has purportedly concentrated its radar and air defence capabilities on its northern borders expecting a potential missile strike to come from the direction of the North Pole.
16 September 2021, 18:57 GMT
The US first started testing hypersonic missile technologies at the end of the 20th century, but abandoned them after seeing poor results. It has revived research into this technology in recent years in light of the progress made in the field by Russian and Chinese defence industries. The two countries have boasted developing working prototypes of hypersonic armaments, with Russia reporting about the start of deployments in its armed forces. In addition, North Korea also reported testing its first hypersonic missile on 30 September.