According to experts, China’s mysterious space technology test is not a sign that the sky is falling.
last month, Reported Financial Times China launched a nuclear-compatible hypersonic weapon on a rocket during a test in August. Hypersonic aircraft failed to reach their goals in just 24 miles (39 km), which surprised and surprised US authorities, the newspaper said.
Chinese authorities Disputed the reportThe launch claims that it has only tested the technology of reusable spacecraft. But even if it’s just a cover story, don’t panic, according to new policy analysis.
“In any case, this does not change the nuclear balance of terrorism between Beijing and Washington,” said Bredin Bowen, a lecturer in international affairs at the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom. Said in a statement..
Bowen, along with University of Leicester researcher Cameron Hunter, co-authored a new analysis of the August test. Their research culminated in a policy brief on page 8 of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network. here..
In particular, the duo investigated the possibility that the August launch tested the “Fractional Orbital Bombing System” (FOBS). This is a technique that accelerates the warhead to orbital speed, but slows it down for delivery to the target before completing the complete circuit. Of earth. (That “partial” detail could help the country avoid the 1967 breach Outer Space Treaty, This hinders the placement of nuclear weapons in orbit, Bowen and Hunter said. )
Warheads delivered via FOBS can sail from different directions, and such attacks are Intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), you need to fly along a predictable route.
But Bowen and Hunter emphasized that FOBS itself is not a game-changing technology. They pointed out that the Soviet Union developed the FOBS feature in the 1960s, but found it less useful than submarine-launched warheads and the overwhelming ICBM warheads.
“At this point, it’s still unclear what the Chinese military has tested exactly, but with FOBS-like capabilities, it could be deployed on a large scale because of the cost of deploying the large number of weapons needed. Is low. Meaningful nuclear capabilities, inefficiencies in US missile defense in China’s defense against existing nuclear weapons, and the very limited benefits that FOBS provides beyond China’s existing nuclear capabilities on Earth. “Bouen said.
Hypersonic aircraft Speed of sound It is also highly maneuverable and more difficult to track and intercept than the ICBM. Hypersonic weapon systems are widely seen as one of the next major frontiers in military technology, the United States, China, Russia, North Korea They are all actively developed and tested.
However, like FOBS, operating hypersonic aircraft may not actually offer many of the benefits on the battlefield. “Defense against nuclear ballistic missile attacks doesn’t work in the first place,” Bowen and Hunter wrote in their policy briefs.
“In the calculation of the nuclear war between the United States and China, US missile defense could prevent China from delivering some ballistically delivered bombs to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, Denver, and Chicago. You shouldn’t seriously believe that you can, “they added. .. “In this type of conflict, if all kinds of attacks on the homeland escalate significantly, the ambiguity of the target is irrelevant, questioning whether supersonic glide weapons will independently destabilize in the calculation of nuclear war. I will throw it. “
Bowen and Hunter have taken the August test, calling for a cooler head and making some recommendations to policy makers who may help ease current and future tensions. For example, they emphasize that further dialogue on space security in the Asia-Pacific region is “urgently needed” and that countries should not wait for China and the United States to take leadership in this area.
“This test was done out of nowhere. US missile defense in the 1960s was clearly intended to nullify China’s nuclear attack. Since then, the US has the same more modern technology. We have consistently dismissed the concerns of the Chinese authorities that they have a purpose, “Hunter, a US-China space relations and nuclear weapons technology politics expert, said in the same statement.
“The Chinese government has repeatedly rejected US invitations to talk about nuclear weapons. Today, there is little or no dialogue, and this test only makes things worse,” he added. “If the US and China are not at the negotiating table, other governments in Asia Pacific [region] You have the opportunity to take the initiative and try to build confidence in these important strategic issues. “
Mike Wall says “there“(Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book on exploring alien life. Follow him on Twitter. @michaeldwall.. Follow us on twitter @Spacedotcom Also Facebook..
Experts say China’s hypersonic weapons test is not the cause of panic
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