Written by Staff Writer, CNN
US military officials say a hypersonic test flight by China’s military shows the Asian giant is on a course to develop its own “fifth generation” strike planes in the next two decades.
Earlier this month, a Chinese Global Times report said China conducted a successful test of its Wenzhou Hypersonic Weapon earlier this month.
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China’s foreign ministry is yet to comment, but some Chinese analysts and publications have released analyses in response.
According to military researchers who spoke to Defense One, the glide of the Wenzhou hypersonic weapon is very different to that of a hypersonic anti-ship missile. And these missiles cannot be stopped with a shore-based defense system.
“The test flight indicates that China’s military is establishing an early capability to employ hypersonic technologies on a large scale and, in the future, could develop sophisticated air-to-air, anti-ship, and anti-submarine capabilities that would propel China into a fifth-generation long-range strike capability,” Brig. Gen. Craig Anderson, executive director of the Center for Naval Analyses, said in a statement.
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China is building a slew of hypersonic missiles, including the DF-31 (Dao-31), DF-21D (Hafa-21D), DF-31A (Huan-31A), DF-21D (Hu-31D), DF-41 (Du-31D), and DF-41S (Dong-31S).
According to a 2013 U.S. Air Force report on China’s new weapons, “The Russian and Chinese hypersonic programs are separated by many decades and are developing different subsystems — aircraft guidance control systems, atmospheric flight control subsystems, human-machine interface subsystems, energetics, electronic warfare subsystems, and airframe subsystems.”
In November 2016, China’s Defense Ministry said that the People’s Liberation Army will use hypersonic weapons to deliver unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by 2022, China Daily reports.
“When asked whether China was ready to launch hypersonic missiles, Chang Ju, a professor of Chinese aerospace engineering and military expert at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said the military was not at the stage yet to talk about sending the warheads,” the China Daily reported.