A media report stated that China had tested a weapon in August that flew through space and circled the globe before cruising down toward a target that it missed.
President Joe Biden expressed concern about Chinese hypersonic missiles on Wednesday, days after a report in the media claimed Beijing had tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide weapon.
When reporters asked if he was concerned about Chinese hypersonic missiles as he boarded Air Force One for a trip to Pennsylvania, Biden answered, “Yes.”
Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or around 6,200 kilometers per hour, through the upper atmosphere (3,853 mph).
According to the Financial Times, China tested a missile that traveled through space and circled the globe before cruising down toward a target that it missed in August. The report was denied by China’s foreign ministry.
The test came as the US and its worldwide rivals accelerated their development of hypersonic weapons, the next generation of weapons that eliminate adversaries’ reaction time and traditional defeat mechanisms.
“Hypersonic weapons are strategic game-changers with the dangerous potential to fundamentally undermine strategic stability as we know it,” Senator Angus King of Maine said on Monday, adding that “the US cannot lag in this development or allow for blind spots as we monitor the progress of our competitors.”
White House spokesperson Jen Psaki told reporters on Wednesday that the White House has expressed concerns about Chinese hypersonic missile technology through “diplomatic channels.”
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency of the Pentagon successfully tested an air-breathing hypersonic missile capable of speeds faster than five times the speed of sound in September. It was the first time the weapon class had been successfully tested since 2013.
Lockheed Martin and Raytheon Technologies are among the companies working to develop the United States’ hypersonic weapon capability.
Hypersonic weapons are potential “nightmare weapons,” King said. “The implications of these weapons under development by China or Russia could be catastrophic.”