• Tue
  • Sep 16, 2014
  • Updated: 2:01pm
NewsChina
DEFENCE

China hails first test of hypersonic nuclear missile carrier

US no longer only one with Mach 10 glider that can outfox defences and deliver nuclear warhead

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 4:20am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 January, 2014, 8:41am

China has flight-tested a hypersonic missile delivery vehicle capable of penetrating any existing defence system with nuclear warheads, according to the Pentagon.

The hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed the "Wu-14" by the United States, was detected flying at 10 times the speed of sound during a test flight over China on Thursday, a Pentagon official told the Washington Free Beacon, an online newspaper. A Pentagon spokesman later confirmed the report but declined to provide details.

"We routinely monitor foreign defence activities and we are aware of the test," Marine Corpsc spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Jeffery Pool told the Beacon.

Chinese military experts yesterday hailed the test as a breakthrough.

It makes China the second country after the US to have successfully tested a hypersonic delivery vehicle capable of carrying nuclear warheads at a speed above Mach 10.

Such a weapon has long been seen as a game-changer by security experts as it can hit a target before any of the existing missile defence systems can react. Once deployed, it could significantly boost China's strategic and conventional missile force.

It is designed to be carried by an intercontinental ballistic missile. Once it reaches an undisclosed sub-orbital altitude, the vehicle jettisons from the rocket and nose-dives towards the target at a speed of Mach 10, or 12,359km/h.

Russia and India are also known to be working on such a weapon.

In 2010, the US tested the Lockheed HTV-2 - a similar delivery vehicle capable of reaching speeds of up to Mach 20.

Last week's test shows that China has managed to close the gaps with the US. Chinese scientists said China had put "enormous investment" into the project.

More than 100 teams from leading research institutes and universities have been involved in the project.

Purpose-built facilities test various parts of the weapons system. The Chinese Academy of Sciences, for instance, has recently built one of the world's largest and most advanced hypersonic wind tunnels to simulate flights at up to Mach 15 at the Institute of Mechanics in Beijing.

Professor Wang Yuhui , a researcher on hypersonic flight control at Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, said she was not surprised by the test last week because China was technologically ready.

The objective of hypersonic vehicles was to outmanoeuvre and penetrate a missile defence system, she said.

"With a speed of Mach 10 or higher, it cannot be caught or tracked because defence systems don't have enough time to respond," Wang said.

She said the US remained the indisputable leader in the field but no country was ready to deploy the first practical hypersonic missile as many technological challenges remained. One outstanding issue was how to achieve precise flight control at such high speeds.

Scientists are also trying to develop a better "super material" that can withstand the high temperatures during hypersonic flights.

"I am sure many tests will be carried out after last week's flight to solve the problems," Wang said. "It's just the beginning."

Li Jie , a Beijing-based naval expert, said hypersonic weapons were of strategic and tactical importance to China.

"Many technical issues have not been solved and no country has made it ready for use in the field," he said.

"But it is a challenge we must surmount, and we are throwing everything we have at it."

Ni Lexiong , a Shanghai-based naval expert, said China might still need some time to catch up with the US but the day could arrive sooner than many expect. "Missiles will play a dominant role in warfare and China has a very clear idea of what is important."

 

Share

Related topics

For unlimited access to:

SCMP.com SCMP Tablet Edition SCMP Mobile Edition 10-year news archive
 
 

 

27

This article is now closed to comments

jiawang@adb.org
At some point, China will have "critical mass" and no combination of countries can touch her.
ning.zhang.1000
Congratulations, China; and congratulations, Chinese scientists!
lucifer
The more weapons China gets its hands on, the bigger the risk that the region will be forced to endure Chinese military adventurism. Japan had a similar military build up prior to WWII. Japan also invaded other countries to secure resources of which it had little at home. History has a very strange way of repeating itself.....but it always does.
ldAsia
No knowledge about the history. Don't you know that Japan was the Oriental Nazi in WW2! They sneaked and invaded everybody (including America's Pearl Harbor, for God's sake) in WW2 and murdered, raped, millions; and to date, still trying to deny about their crimes and claiming that they were helping the world. What a freaking, lying country! Only the naive and innocent ones, will still believe them. They thought the world is in kindergarten level. Anyone with brain cells will not trust them. And yet, today they still distort all the facts about China and acts as a dog for the US trying to suppress China's growth, but still fail miserably because China is destined factly to be #1 economic power soon as in 2020. Please study the history to understand who created all wars around the world - the Western world leaded by US, Britain, French their dog in the East, Japan. Read the history - China has not initiated a single war for past centuries. Millions are still dying in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and now Syria!! Understand history, then you will understand who are the real aggressors in this world.
ognevodd
Yeah, congrats on stealing that from the US, clever move =)
ldAsia
US Atomic bomb technology was helped with German Scientists. 30% of America space programs, defense technologies and Silicon valley high tech are naturalized citizens PhD from Asia. If you take them all out, American technology might set back 20 years. If you take out Asian students in Univ of Calif, you might well remove 30% to 50% of Chinese students. Whoever they come from, they could be the American citizens who are contributing to America and pay taxes. No discrimination against Asians here. There are 300,000 foreign students from China to US now. Some of them could become future US Citizens too. And don't underestimate the new communist China. They might not reach American technology level today. But China is rising fast and it has smart people and cash. China is now investing in Navy and military. In addition: China ranks number one country in publishing the quality scientific paper in the professional world. They develop and own the fastest train on earth with 300 mph and many other humbled countries are reaping this successful technology. Worst of all, many people (especially the politicians) are afraid of knowing, like an ostrich burying its head into the sand: the Chinese students rank consistently number ONE in Reading, Math, and Science in Global Assessment for the 15 years old among 65 nations. (versus US students ranked 24 in Reading, 35 in Math, 27 in Science; in the 2012 Assessment. These kids are supposed to be the future pillars of the nation!!!!
guy.pant
You got it backwards. No need to steal the US version which keeps crashing in the sea when China's got one that works.

Pages

 
 
 
 
 

Login

SCMP.com Account

or