China fired a missile from a hypersonic weapon as it approached a target during a test in July, the Financial Times reported, adding the Pentagon was surprised because no nation was known to have the capability.
A hypersonic glide vehicle launched by China fired the projectile over the South China Sea while moving at five times the speed of sound, the newspaper reported, citing people familiar with the intelligence.
Some military experts believe an air-to-air missile was fired, the newspaper said. Others thought it was a countermeasure that could hurt the ability of missile defense systems to knock out the
hypersonic weapon, which can carry a nuclear warhead, in a battle. The Financial Times reported last month that China conducted hypersonic weapons tests earlier, raising concern in Washington about Beijing’s advancing military capabilities.
China’s Foreign Ministry said in October the nation had tested “a routine
spacecraft” to see if it was reusable, an assertion ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian repeated at a regular press briefing in Beijing.
In an apparent effort to dismiss the idea the spacecraft launched anything, Zhao added: “After separating from the spacecraft before its return, the supporting devices will burn up when they are falling in the atmosphere.”
Last year, the US Navy successfully intercepted a mock intercontinental ballistic missile.