According to the Financial Times, China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, demonstrating a capability that took US intelligence off guard.
The Chinese military fired a rocket carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle into low-orbit space, circling the globe before flying towards its target, which it missed by around two dozen miles, according to a report released late Saturday.
According to the paper, “the test revealed that China had made astonishing progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US authorities believed.”
China’s ministry of defense did not immediately respond to a faxed request for comment from Reuters on Sunday.
The US and Russia are also working on hypersonic missiles, and North Korea announced last month that it had successfully test-fired a newly built hypersonic missile.
China displayed advanced weaponry, including its DF-17 hypersonic missile, at a parade in 2019.
Ballistic missiles travel into space before returning at great speeds on steep trajectories. Hypersonic weapons are difficult to defend against since they fly at lower altitudes and can reach speeds of more than five times the speed of sound (about 6,200 km/h) (3,850 mph).