Can the US defend against Chinese missile attack?

The revelation that China has advanced in developing hypersonic weapons has renewed calls for the U.S. military to invest both in hypersonic weapons as well as the capability to combat such weapons.

The test of a Chinese hypersonic missile in August appeared to catch U.S. military officials by surprise, with one person allegedly saying the U.S. had “no idea how they did this.”

What are hypersonic weapons, and how worried should the American military be by China’s recent test?

HYPERSONIC WEAPONS

Hypersonic weapons are broadly defined as any vehicle or missile that moves at Mach 5 – five times the speed of sound, or around 3,800 miles per hour. Intercontinental ballistic missiles, which have existed for some time: Russia, the United States, China and – most recently – North Korea have all tested ICBMs of this speed or greater, according to Popular Science.

The U.S. has actively pursued the development of such weapons since the 2000s. Joint Chiefs of Staff and former Commander of U.S. Strategic Command General John Hyten has stated, these weapons could enable “responsive, long-range, strike options against distant, defended, and/or time-critical threats [such as road-mobile missiles] when other forces are unavailable, denied access, or not preferred.”

These missiles fly up into space and travel some distance before re-entering the atmosphere as the missile aims for a target. Vehicles that follow this type of flight pattern are known as hypersonic glide vehicles.

The second version of such weapons would be the hypersonic cruise missile, which can fly through the atmosphere. The heat generated by Mach 5 flight, and the fuel required to propel at these sustained speeds, pose the greatest hurdle to development.

CHINA’S TEST

China has previously demonstrated the capability to deploy ICBM as early as 2014, John Venable of D.C.-based think-tank The Heritage Foundation told Fox News.

“The Chinese began this particular glide vehicle in 2014,” Venable said. “They had nine successful tests since then, approximately. The idea that this is…

 

Continue reading at FOXNEWS.com

 

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