China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in a move that surprised U.S. intelligence services, according to a new report.
The missile was launched in August and circled the globe before heading towards its target, which it missed by about two dozen kilometers according to three people with intelligence. Two of those people said the test shows how far China has advanced in hypersonic weapons – further than US officials realize.
“We now know how they did it,” one person told the Financial Times.
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Taylor Fravel, Chinese nuclear weapons expert and professor at MIT, said it would be “unsettling” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon.
“Hypersonic glide vehicles… fly on lower trajectories and can maneuver in flight, making them difficult to track and destroy,” said Fravel.
In recent months, US military officials have warned of China’s growing nuclear capabilities, especially after satellite images were released showing it was building more than 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 closely guarded North Pole route.
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At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing in March, Admiral Philip Davidson, head of the Indo-Pacific Command, warned of a growing “imbalance” in the region caused by the rapid military advance of China.
“The military balance in the Indo-Pacific is becoming increasingly unfavorable for the United States and our allies,” Davidson said. “With this imbalance, we are accumulating risks that could encourage China to unilaterally change the status quo before our forces can be able to provide an effective response.”
China announced earlier this year that it would increase its defense budget by 6.8% in 2022.
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One of the main concerns is that China is currently not tied to any arms control agreement and has yet to properly engage in talks with the United States.
The Pentagon did not comment on the specific test, but acknowledged that China was a top priority.
“We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities that China continues to seek, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby told Fox News. . “This is one of the reasons we see China as our number one stimulus challenge.”
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The Pentagon did not respond to a request for comment from Fox News.
Fox News’ Caitlin McFall contributed to this report.
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