China has tested a hypersonic missile capable of launching a projectile
Eva Deschamps / November 23, 2021
Confirming information published Sunday by the Financial Times, the U.S. daily reported that China had conducted a test in July involving a sophisticated maneuver during which a projectile was fired from a hypersonic missile in mid-air.
The move shows that China's capabilities are greater than previously known, the Wall Street Journal added, citing unidentified US officials.
According to the Financial Times, experts at Darpa, the Pentagon's research agency, do not know how China managed to fire a projectile from a vehicle flying at hypersonic speed, that is, at more than five times the speed of sound.
They also do not know the nature of the projectile that fell into the sea, according to the British daily, citing people who had access to intelligence information. Some experts believe it was an air-to-air missile, others saw it as a decoy designed to protect the hypersonic missile in case of conflict.
The Financial Times reported in October that Beijing had launched a hypersonic missile in August that circled the Earth in orbit before descending to its target, finally missing by a few kilometers.
Beijing had denied that it was a missile test, ensuring simply to test the technology of reusable space vehicle.
But the most senior American officer, General Mark Milley, mentioned a few days later a very significant test of a hypersonic weapon system, without specifying the date.
He compared it to the launch in October 1957 by the USSR of the first artificial satellite, Sputnik, which surprised the United States and launched the space race.