China's mysterious hypersonic nuclear weapon 'can stay in orbit for extended period of time,' general warns
NEW intelligence from a US Space Force official confirms that China's hypersonic weapon system can stay in orbit for "an extended period of time."
US intelligence and military officials have been keeping a close eye on the technology, which reportedly had its first test launch in August.
In a forum event streamed online, information about the weapon was explained by Lieutenant General B. Chance Saltzman, Deputy Chief of Space Operations for Operations, Cyber, and Nuclear, United States Space Force.
Saltzman clarified that China's mysterious new weapon reportedly uses fractional orbit technology, rather than a traditional suborbital method.
That would allow the device to spend a significant time in orbit, Saltzman indicated.
There's also speculation surrounding the "hypersonic glide vehicle" tested by China earlier in 2021.
A hypersonic missile travels five times faster than the speed of sound and can reach distances of up to 1,500 miles, with Russia using the technology to build cutting-edge missiles in recent years.
Asian superpowers have been scrambling to build powerful weapons in a terrifying arms race.
An Asian national security official and a Chinese security expert close to the People’s Liberation Army said the weapon in China was being developed by the country's Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics.
A number of rocket launches have been publicly announced by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology, but the hypersonic missile test in August was reportedly kept secret.
The missile is understood to have been launched on a Long March rocket, which is used for China's space program.
Two people familiar with the missile test said the weapon could, in theory, fly over the South Pole, which would pose a huge challenge for the US military as its missile defense systems are focused on the northern polar route.
Although the Pentagon did not comment directly on the report, spokesman John Kirby said: "We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond.
"That is one reason why we hold China as our number one pacing challenge."
Chinese embassy spokesman Liu Pengyu said China's military development did not target any specific country and it has always pursued a military policy that was "defensive in nature".
Liu said: "We don’t have a global strategy and plans of military operations like the US does. And we are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries.
"In contrast, the US has in recent years been fabricating excuses like ‘the China threat’ to justify its arms expansion and development of hypersonic weapons.
"This has directly intensified arms race in this category and severely undermined global strategic stability."
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