China tested new hypersonic missile in August; check out the details

The missile circled the Earth at low orbit before descending toward its target, which it missed by more than 20 miles

Hypersonic missiles can achieve a speed of more than five times the speed of sound. Representational image

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, according to a report by The Financial Times. Here’s all you need to know about the missile.

Citing several sources, the report said the missile circled the Earth at low orbit before descending toward its target. According to the sources, it missed the target by more than 20 miles.

The report further said a Long March rocket carried the missile. Usually, launches like these are announced, but the test by China in August was done secretly. China’s progress on hypersonic weapons “caught US intelligence by surprise”, the report added.

What hypersonic missiles do

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Along with China, more than five countries, including the US and Russia, are working on hypersonic technology. Hypersonic missiles can achieve a speed of more than five times the speed of sound.

While traditional ballistic missiles fly high into space in an arc to reach their target, a hypersonic missile flies on a trajectory low in the atmosphere, reaching its target faster than ballistic missiles.

Also read: Sub ‘safe and stable,’ says US navy; makes onward journey after accident

One of the key features of the hypersonic missile is that it can be maneuverable (like the much slower, often subsonic cruise missile), making it hard to track.

According to a recent report by the US Congressional Research Service (CRS), China has been aggressively developing hypersonic technology, seeing it as crucial to defend against US gains in hypersonic and other technologies.

The reported test comes as US-China tensions have mounted and Beijing has stepped up military activity near Taiwan, which the US considers a breakaway province.

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