China on Wednesday confirmed that it carried out a third flight test of a new hypersonic strike vehicle that U.S. officials say is part of efforts by Chinese nuclear forces to penetrate U.S. strategic missile defenses.
A Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman told state-run news media the Dec. 2 test was routine.
“Scientific experiments carried out by China within its borders are normal ones conducted according to its schedule, and they are not directed against any specific country or target,” the Defense Ministry stated through a spokesman. The comments were reported in the official China Daily newspaper.
The official confirmation is unusual because China’s military development programs, and specifically its nuclear arms, are shrouded in secrecy.
The third test of the advanced weapon in a single year is an indication of the high priority China has placed on building the weapon, military analysts said.
John Tkacik, a former State Department China affairs specialist, said the Wu-14 development is one reason the Pentagon increasingly has expressed anxieties over Chinese weapons development in public.
“Clearly, hypersonic reentry vehicles are intended eventually to deliver nuclear weapons to a target,” Tkacik said. “And clearly, China is modernizing its nuclear weapon systems far more extensively than Washington policymakers have been willing to believe.”
Tkacik noted that the Wu-14 program comes “at a time when America’s nuclear weapons infrastructure, from Air Force delivery systems launch units down through the industrial base, is attriting its expertise, its scientists, its manufacturing capacity, its military morale.” By contrast, “China has upped the ante and is betting all in,” he said.
“Unlike the U.S. which can’t build a nuclear warhead any more, China’s drive for a hypersonic capacity centers on nuclear weapons delivery,” Tkacik said. “But this is a reality that no one in Washington can quite allow himself to believe.”
The Wu-14 is launched atop a ballistic missile, travels to near-space, and then re-enters the atmosphere and glided to its target. It travels at speeds of up to Mach 10, or 10 times the speed of sound, around 7,680 miles per hour.
Full article: China Confirms Third Test of Hypersonic Missile (Washington Free Beacon)