Since the Financial Times reported China conducted two hypersonic tests over the summer, US officials have expressed concern about technological advances because no nation (except China) can propel a hypersonic weapon into space that can fly over the South Pole, rendering US missile defense systems useless. In other words: a possible checkmate.
In a new report via FT, People familiar with details of the July 27 test said China launched an "orbital bombardment system" rocket over the South China Sea while moving at five times the speed of sound. Pentagon experts are unsure how China managed to fire a hypersonic glide vehicle from the system while traveling at such speeds in space. It appears China has mastered a technology that Russia and the US have yet to acquire fully.
The orbital bombardment system could be a checkmate to the US because it flies over the South Pole, putting US missile defense shields out of reach. There's also the issue of the hypersonic glide vehicle that is highly maneuverable and is hard to shoot down, which suggests the US is prone to a hypersonic missile attack from China.
FT reported last month that China conducted two hypersonic weapons tests, one on July 27 and another on Aug. 13. Both tests come as Beijing increases its nuclear capability and posture in the South China Sea, Taiwan Strait, and Pacific.
China's Foreign Ministry denied reports that the country had tested a hypersonic weapon in space, saying "it was not a missile, it was a space vehicle."
The Chinese embassy said it had no idea of a missile test.
"We are not at all interested in having an arms race with other countries," said Liu Pengyu, the embassy spokesperson. "The US has in recent years been fabricating excuses like 'the China threat' to justify its arms expansion and development of hypersonic weapons."
Meanwhile, US Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs General John Hyten told CBS News' David Martin last week that China's recent hypersonic missile test that went around the world "is a very significant capability that has the potential to change a lot of things."
China's hypersonic weapons tests suggest President Xi Jinping has or is on the brink of checkmate with the US when deploying advanced weapons. Orbital strikes from China on the US mainland via hypersonic glide vehicles could be a severe threat because US defense shields may not stop the weapons.