China Successfully Tested A Hypersonic Weapon 6 Times The Speed Of Sound
China marks its first successful testing of a hypersonic vehicle that can reach incredible speeds, carry a nuclear weapon, and fly under the radar.
The hypersonic vehicle, dubbed the Starry Sky-2, is a remarkable achievement for the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics, especially with the successful conclusion of its first tests last Friday, Aug. 3.
China Launches Starry Sky-2
According to CNN, hypersonic vehicles travel six times the speed of sound. China's Starry Sky-2 exceeds this threshold, hitting Mach 6 and traveling at six times the speed of sound or 4,563 miles per hour.
"The Starry Sky-2 flight test project was strongly innovative and technically difficult, confronting a number of cutting-edge international technical challenges," the CAAA wrote on WeChat.
The aircraft is also China's first waverider, a type of hypersonic vehicle that uses its shock waves for its lift, which improves its lift-to-drag ratio.
Future Uses Of Hypersonic Weapon
The CAAA did not specify what technology will be used, except that it will likely contribute to the country's aerospace industry.
However, the military uses of such technology are undeniable. Gizmodo explains that hypersonic vehicles could carry nuclear and conventional warheads. Even more significantly, these aircraft are able to fly undetected through missile defense systems due to their speed and angles.
Peter W. Singer, a fellow at New America and the author of Ghost Fleet: A Novel of the Next World War, praises China for being a "technology powerhouse."
"It not only is developing its own cutting edge research, but it is also able to leverage the best ideas of the rest of the word, through partnerships, purchasing off the open market, and IP theft," he explains to Gizmodo. "The combination presents a technology challenger the likes of which the U.S. military has never before faced."
The Dangers Of Hypersonic Technology
With China successfully demonstrating hypersonic technology and Russia also doing so earlier in 2018, the United States is facing a considerable pressure.
The United States has also been moving forward with the development of their own hypersonic aircraft. Between 2010 and 2013, engineers marked the successful testing of an unmanned Boeing X-51 that hit a top speed of Mach 5.
Back in March, Gen. John Hyten of US Strategic Command acknowledged the potential threat of other countries' hypersonic capabilities.
"We are going to need a different set of sensors in order to see the hypersonic threats," Hyten says. "Our adversaries know that."