Following conflicts over trade, technology, and capital markets, the US and China are locked in a great power competition, as some describe it as Thucydides Trap. We believe the battleground for global supremacy is heating up on the hypersonic front.
According to South China Morning Post (SCMP), researcher Han Guilai, of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, said a new wind tunnel in Beijing will "soon be unveiled" and put China decades ahead of the West in hypersonic technology.
Guilai told an online lecture in late May that the JF-22 wind tunnel, in Beijing's Huairou district, was capable of simulating flights at 30 times the speed of sound. He said this would put China "about 20 to 30 years ahead" of the West.
Such technology could propel China's aerospace sector to test and quickly develop, sometime in this decade, hypersonic aircraft and weapons that could fly anywhere in the world in two hours or less. This would be an essential technology for the People's Liberation Army Air Force to embrace because it would allow President Xi Jinping to challenge the US in the Indo-Pacific region.
Already, China has the DF-17 "carrier killer" missile that can travel at Mach 10 and sink a US aircraft carrier, while traditional missile defense systems would be utterly useless in defending against a weapon that is extremely fast and maneuverable.
Guilai explained how the new hypersonic wind tunnel operates. He said instead of using mechanical compressors, Beijing uses chemical explosions to produce high-speed airflow.
At America's most advanced wind tunnel, named the LENS II, simulated flights are conducted only between Mach 3 and 9.
He said hypersonic technology tested in the JF-22 would be more advanced than the West's, and "this determines our leading position in the world."
Guilai did not provide any information on when the JF-22 will begin testing hypersonic technologies.
He added: "There is a Chinese saying, it takes 10 years to sharpen a sword. "We have spent 60 years sharpening two swords. And they are the best."
China is coming for the US - they're quickly modernizing their military for an Indo-Pacific fight with the US. We've learned nothing from history, and the US and China are falling into Thucydides Trap.
Our take, if a future conflict breaks out, fifth-generation fight jets and bombers, along with hypersonic weapons, would dominate the modern battlefield on either side. China is quickly gaining on the US in terms of military might.