China Launches Nuclear-Capable Hypersonic Missile, Leaves US Intelligence Stunned
'China has made astonishing progress' - 'We have no idea how they did this'
In a terrifying display of its military advancement, China's Communist regime has launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile to circle the planet in low orbit, leaving U.S. intelligence officials stunned by the technology.
China secretly tested the missile, which orbited the globe before returning to Earth to strike its target.
The test has sent shockwaves with military officials around the world as the technological development would overcome U.S. anti-ballistic missile systems.
A report from the Financial Times, which cited five unnamed intelligence sources, said the Chinese military launched the Long March rocket in August carrying a "hypersonic glide vehicle" into low orbit.
It circled Earth before descending towards its target, which it missed by roughly 25 miles.
The hypersonic missiles can reach speeds of up to 21,000mph and can strike anywhere on Earth from space within minutes.
The system would be able to overcome US anti-ballistic missile defence systems that are based in Alaska and set up to shoot down projectiles coming over the North Pole - the Chinese system would be able to strike the US from the south.
The incident has left US intelligence officials stunned, sources say, as it shows "China has made astonishing progress on the development of its hypersonic weapons."
"We have no idea how they did this," a person familiar with the test told the FT.
Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons and professor at MIT, said it would be "destabilizing" if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon.
"Hypersonic glide vehicles…fly at lower trajectories and can maneuver in flight, which makes them hard to track and destroy," Fravel said.
U.S. military officials in recent months have warned about China’s growing nuclear capabilities, particularly after the release of satellite imagery that showed it was building over 100 intercontinental missile silos.
Two sources familiar with the recent test noted that the weapon could, in theory, fly via the South Pole instead of the more heavily monitored North Pole route.
During a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March, Admiral Philip Davidson, head of Indo-Pacific command, warned against an increasing "imbalance" in the region brought on by China’s rapid military advance.
"The military balance in the Indo-Pacific is becoming more unfavorable for the United States and our allies," Davidson said.
"With this imbalance, we are accumulating risk that may embolden China to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces may be able to deliver an effective response."
China announced earlier this year that it will increase its defense budget by 6.8% in 2022.
One major concern is that China is not currently tied to any arms-control deals and has yet to properly engage in talks with the U.S.
The Pentagon did not comment on the specific test but did acknowledge that China is a top priority.
"We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond," John Kirby, a Pentagon spokesperson, told Fox News.
"That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge."