July 12, 2014

China developing new hypersonic missile: report

                                        NASA's X-43 hypersonic vehicle. (Photo/NASA)
People's Liberation Army is developing a new jet-powered hypersonic cruise missile with the ability to carry out nuclear strikes against the continental United States, according to US defense expert Bill Gertz in a piece for the Washington Free Beacon on July 9.
Gertz said a line drawing of the scramjet-powered vehicle shows China's new hypersonic missile is identical to NASA's experimental X-43. Publications from China also indicate that the nation is pursuing a second type of ultra-fast maneuvering missile capable of traveling at speeds of up to Mach 10 or 8,000 miles per hour, after the Wu-14 high-speed glide vehicle tested earlier this year.
Gertz wrote in his article that the United States is developing both scramjet-powered and glide-hypersonic missiles while the Russian government has made development of hypersonic missiles a priority. China therefore needs to design its own scramjet-powered cruise vehicle capable of speeds greater than Mach 5 to meet this new challenge. Quoting from Chinese studies, Gertz said the strike vehicle can be used in an Anti-Access and Area Denial strategy against US aircraft carriers.
Such weapon systems may present an even greater threat to the national security of United States, however. Richard Fisher, an American expert on Chinese military development, said the scramjet-powered vehicle is better than the Wu-14 at complicating efforts by US missile defenses to intercept it. Fisher said China has identified hypersonics as a critical future military technology and invested heavily in it.
Fisher wrote, "The old Bush administration concept of Prompt Global Strike using hypersonic non-nuclear warheads may be dormant in Washington, but it is very much alive and flourishing in Beijing."
Meanwhile Lee Fuell, a technical intelligence specialist at the Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center, told a congressional hearing that hypersonic strike vehicles may be used for conventional precision-guided strikes as well as nuclear attacks.


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