What China’s hypersonic test launch reveals about the global arms race


The Financial Times exposure that China has tested two hypersonic weapons in recent months Sounded a warning among U.S. defense officials That’s because it suggests that Beijing is making faster-than-expected advances in its new class of missile defense systems-destroying weapons.

Especially one test, Conducted on July 27, Intrigued by US government scientists. China has launched the Long March rocket. The rocket puts a highly mobile, nuclear-capable glider in orbit, allowing it to move toward its target at five times the speed of sound. Identified because the information is categorized.

Unknown elements of the test have led US scientists to suspect that Beijing has achieved a new military force. This suggests that China is developing weapons that could change the balance of power between the two countries even faster.

This is a guide to what is known about weapons and other hypersonic arms under development around the world.

What is the technology behind the Chinese test?

During the Cold War, the Soviet Union developed an orbital bombing system that could put nuclear weapons into orbit at a lower orbit than traditional fixed-orbit ballistic missiles. Traditional devices are sent into space where they are detected and intercepted.

Called a “partial orbital bombing system” or fob in Moscow, it was designed to evade missile defense systems. The term “fraction” was used to support Russia’s claim that it did not violate the 1967 Outer Space Treaty, which bans the deployment of nuclear weapons in space.

However, there is a twist in the Chinese version of the system tested last summer. It is a so-called hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) that can move at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound (hence the hypersonic label) and can move at many speeds. Even more than a ballistic missile off the rocket.

The low trajectory, speed, and maneuverability of the glider when approaching the target make interception much more difficult. It is different from hypersonic cruise missiles. These are equipped with high-speed engines that use atmospheric oxygen as propulsion during flight, the so-called air breathing engine. Glider can move even faster than hypersonic missiles because it is put into orbit by a powerful rocket.

“The easiest way to think [the glider combined with the Fobs] Imagine a space shuttle, put your nuclear weapons in the cargo hold, and forget about your landing gear, “said Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear weapons expert at the Middlebury International Institute in Monterey.

Who is developing hypersonic weapons?

The United States, Russia and China are leading the development of hypersonic aircraft. But in particular, only China and Russia are developing nuclear-powered gliders.

Other countries, including the United Kingdom, France, Australia, India, Japan and North Korea, are also working on this technology. Meanwhile, Iran, Israel, and South Korea are conducting basic research, according to a recent report by the Congressional Research Service.

Financing of hypersonic weapons in the United States has increased in recent years, partly due to advances in these technologies in Russia and China. Russia recently said it had test-launched a hypersonic missile from a submarine for the first time.

The Pentagon’s recent budget demand for hypersonic research in 2022 was $ 3.8 billion, up from the $ 3.2 billion demand in 2021. The Missile Defense Agency has demanded an additional $ 247.9 million for hypersonic defense.

Many of the world’s largest defense companies, such as Lockheed Martin in the United States, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, and BAE Systems in the United Kingdom, have invested in Hypersonic and are working with the government to test and develop various features.

Why does China want this technology?

Fractional orbital systems can circumvent the US early warning system. They can also fly over Antarctica and out of reach of Alaska-based Pentagon interceptor missiles.

Some experts say that US missile defense repels states such as North Korea, which have relatively small long-range missile capabilities and are not designed to overcome large-scale attacks from countries like China. I am wondering why China is developing this capability because it is tuned to do so.

David Wright, a nuclear weapons expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, knew that China could overcome US missile defense, but their system was more capable that China had other methods of attack. He said he might want to convince US authorities that he believes there is. “Another argument is that they don’t want to be caught in the future,” Wright said, noting that the United States continues to develop ballistic missile defense systems.

Joshua Pollock of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies may also be thinking about how China can counter the maritime missile defense system on board Aegis vessels deployed in the western Pacific Ocean by the United States. Said not. He added that maneuverable gliders would help avoid those systems.

What does this mean for the balance of military power between the United States and China?

Admiral Charles Richard, head of the Strategic Command, which oversees U.S. nuclear forces, told the German military newspaper Stars and Stripes this week that China “can now implement possible nuclear employment strategies.” rice field.

“We should accept the reality that innovation is possible in China as well,” Lewis said. “I will note the exaggerated characterization that may help tolerate common intelligence failures. If it is impossible to imagine innovation, no one is responsible for missing it. . “

Some experts liken the rush of investment in hypersonic aircraft to an arms race. Cameron Tracy, a researcher at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, said the United States was “while spending a lot of money.” .. .. Regarding these weapons, their role was unclear.

“The Pentagon has not clarified what these weapons are intended to do, a clear role in fulfilling missions that existing missile technology could not achieve. This is on the U.S. side. A big open question. Are you just building these because Russia and China are? “He said.

China said it tested spaceplanes rather than weapons. However, the timing of the launch of the plane in mid-July does not coincide with the July 27 test revealed by the FT, which was not announced by Beijing.

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The post What China’s hypersonic test launch reveals about the global arms race appeared first on California News Times.

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