WASHINGTON (AP) – China recently conducted a “very disturbing” test of a hypersonic weapon system as part of its aggressive advancement in space and military technology, a senior US Army official said.
General Mark Milli, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the first Pentagon official to officially confirm the nature of the test conducted this year by the Chinese military, which the Financial Times reported was a nuclear hypersonic weapon that was launched. into space and circled the Earth before re-entering the atmosphere and heading towards its goal in China.
Milli said he could not discuss the details because the aspects are related to secret intelligence. He said the United States is also working on hypersonic weapons, key features of which include flight trajectory, speed, and maneuverability that make it capable of evading early warning systems that are part of the US missile defense system. The United States did not test hypersonic weapons, which Milli said China has achieved.
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“What we saw was a very significant event in the testing of a hypersonic weapon system, and this is very disturbing,” Millie said on The David Rubinstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations on Bloomberg.
“I think I saw in some newspapers that they used the term ‘satellite moment’,” he added. “I don’t know if this is really a moment for Sputnik, but I think he is very close to it. So this is a very important technological event, or test, that happened to the Chinese. And this is all our attention. “
The launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union in 1957 stunned the world and fueled US fears that it was technologically lagging behind in the accelerating arms race in the early stages of the nuclear era.
China has disputed Western news reports about its test, saying it is working on technology for a reusable spacecraft for peaceful purposes.
Some U.S. defense experts say fears over China’s work on hypersonic weapons that could deliver nuclear weapons from space are exaggerated.
James Acton of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace wrote in an essay last week that the United States has long been vulnerable to a nuclear attack from China.
“While the prospect of a nuclear attack on the United States is daunting, this is not a moment for a satellite – in part because it is not entirely clear what was tested, but mainly because the threat of a Chinese nuclear attack on the United States is nothing new. – wrote Acton.
In addition to its advances in hypersonic weapons, China is expanding its network of underground silos that can be used to launch intercontinental nuclear missiles and has rejected US calls to join the nuclear arms control talks. The US also expressed concern over what it calls Chinese attempts to intimidate Taiwan, a self-governing island that China claims to be part of its territory, and claim disputed islands and other land areas in the South China Sea.
Associated Press author Lolita Baldor contributed to this report.