The United States is “very concerned” about China’s hypersonic missile tests, US disarmament ambassador Robert Wood says, after reports that Beijing launched one with a nuclear capacity in August.
On Saturday, the Financial Times reported that China had launched a hypersonic missile that completed a circuit of the planet before landing, missing its target.
“We are very concerned by what China has been doing on the hypersonic front,” says Wood, who next week steps down from his post in Geneva after seven years.
Hypersonic missiles, like traditional ballistic missiles, can fly more than five times the speed of sound (Mach 5). But they are more maneuverable than their ballistic counterparts and only need a low trajectory in the atmosphere, making them harder to defend against.
China insists that the test was a routine one for a spacecraft rather than a missile.
But Wood says that Russia also had hypersonic technology and while Washington had held back from developing a military capacity in this field, they now had no choice but to respond in kind.
The United States is already working on adding hypersonic missiles to its arsenal.