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China hypersonic weapon test successful, says Pentagon Thu Apr 28, 2016 3:5PM|
A notional concept graphic of a Chinese DF-ZF HGV China has successfully flight-tested a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) which is capable of carrying nuclear warheads at ultra-high speeds, US military officials say.
Launched on a ballistic missile from the Wuzhai launch site in central China last Friday, the DF-ZF (formerly known as Wu-14) maneuvering glider was tracked by American intelligence satellites while flying along the edge of atmosphere, unnamed Pentagon officials said Wednesday.
The DF-ZF, which can reach speeds of about 11,200 km (7,000 miles) per hour, successfully hit a designated target area in western China, the officials added.
Unlike the conventional reentry vehicles (RVs) which have a predictable ballistic trajectory, the HGV's high speed and its maneuverability allows it to evade the most advanced missile defense systems after reentering the atmosphere.
According to the Pentagon sources, this was China’s seventh test of the vehicle since 2014 with all previous tests also being successful.
American intelligence officials allege that the DF-ZF can deliver a nuclear warhead anywhere in the world within an hour.
Congressman Randy Forbes, the Chairman of the House of Representatives Armed Services Subcommittee on Sea power, said that the test demonstrates Beijing’s commitment “to upending both the conventional military and nuclear balance, with grave implications for the stability of Asia.”
US hypersonic weapons not ready yet
US Air Force Chief Scientist Greg Zacharias said in an interview that first American hypersonic weapons won’t arrive until 2020s.
“Right now we are focusing on technology maturation so all the bits and pieces, guidance, navigation control, material science, munitions, heat transfer and all that stuff,” Zacharias said.
In its 2017 fiscal budget of $7.5 billion, the US Missile Defense Agency has asked for funds to develop a low-powered laser to target hypersonic missiles but the initial tests of the weapon will not begin before 2021.