China Secretly Conducts Second Flight Test Of New Ultra High-Speed Missile

More light is shed on the ultra high-speed missile the U.S. was previously warned about back in January.

 

Rocket booster debris from Wu-14 test

Rocket booster debris from Wu-14 test

 

Wu-14 hypersonic glide vehicle poses major strategic weapons threat

China recently conducted the second flight test of a new, ultra-high-speed missile that is part of what analysts say is Beijing’s global system of attack weapons capable of striking the United States with nuclear warheads.

The latest test of the new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) known as Wu-14 took place Aug. 7 at a missile facility in western China, said U.S. government officials familiar with details of the test reported in internal channels.

Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool said when asked about the test: “We routinely monitor foreign defense activities, however we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapons systems.”

Pool confirmed the first test in January, but declined to provide a similar confirmation on the recent test. However, two other U.S. officials said the Aug. 7 test involved the Wu-14 HGV.

The first flight test of the Wu-14 took place Jan. 9 and flew at speeds of around Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound—around 7,680 miles per hour. Hypersonic speeds pose severe guidance and control challenges for weapons engineers and produce extreme stress to metal and components.

The Chinese hypersonic test is further evidence of what is viewed in intelligence circles as an emerging hypersonic arms race. In addition to China, the United States, Russia and India are building high-technology hypersonic strategic arms. The weapons are sought for their hard-to-counter features and ability to defeat strategic missile defenses.

Disclosure of the latest weapons test comes as Secretary of State John Kerry, in a speech last week, called for closer cooperation with China. Tensions between Washington and Beijing have increased over aggressive Chinese maritime claims in Asia.

“We are committed to avoiding the trap of strategic rivalry and intent on forging a relationship in which we broaden our cooperation on common interests and constructively manage our differences and disagreements,” Kerry said during a speech Aug. 13 in Hawaii.

In China, state-run press outlets made no mention of the Aug. 7 test, but Chinese Internet reports revealed a possible Wu-14 launch was carried out as the upper stage of a missile on Aug. 7 from the Jiuquan satellite launch facility located in the far western Gobi Desert.

Reports and photos posted online indicated that the booster rocket used in the test crash landed in China’s Inner Mongolia autonomous region.

The booster crash is consistent with a hypersonic test, analysts said. Hypersonic glide vehicles travel in near space and thus the rocket that launched it may not have left the atmosphere, thus preventing it from burning up as would have occurred if it had reentered the atmosphere.

Photos posted on Chinese Internet sites and later removed showed debris from a booster that had Chinese characters painted on pieces indicating the rocket belonged to the China Aerospace Corp.—China’s main missile manufacturer.

The Pentagon, for its part, has conducted work on several hypersonic weapons platforms. They include the X-37B Space Plane, the Lockheed Hypersonic Technology Vehicle-2, and the Air Force’s Force Application and Launch from Continental United States, known as FALCON. Boeing also has built an experimental hypersonic craft known as the X-51 WaveRider.

However, funding for U.S. hypersonic strike craft has been limited as a result of sharp Pentagon budget cuts under the Obama administration.

Russia’s military also has made developing hypersonic strike vehicles a priority. But Moscow is believed to be trailing both China and the United States in the capability.

Full article: China Secretly Conducts Second Flight Test Of New Ultra High-Speed Missile (Washington Free Beacon)

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