US military complete hypersonic weapons test in ‘significant event’ amid China threat

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When China tested a hypersonic weapon last year, General Mark Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said it was “a very significant technological event”. He warned that it is only one of many military capabilities which China possesses.

He said: “The Chinese military capabilities are much greater than that. They’re expanding rapidly in space, in cyber and then in the traditional domains of land, sea and air.”

On Wednesday at Wallops Flight Test Facility in Virginia, the US military completed a successful test launch of a rocket with experiments for hypersonic weapons development.

The launched rocket contained 11 different experiments used to test and collect data for research into hypersonic weapons.

According to the Navy, the testing of hypersonic weapons was part of a joint Army-Navy programme.

The US military previously completed a test in October last year under the programme which aims to develop sea and land-based hypersonic abilities.

The launch saw a rocket discharged from the launchpad in order to complete its various experiments to collect data on components of hypersonic missiles, which include electronics and heat-resistant materials.

Vice Admiral Johnny Wolfe, the director of Strategic Systems Programs which managed the test, said “the launch today went extremely well”.

He added: “As a matter of fact, we’ve just gotten done looking through our key observables, and every piece of data that we wanted to collect – at least preliminarily – has shown that we collected all that data.”

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Hypersonic weapons travel at speeds higher than Mach 5 which means they are difficult to detect and intercept.

The missiles have the ability to manoeuvre and change altitude, enabling it to avoid missile defence systems.

Following China’s advances in hypersonic weapons and other military capabilities, the Pentagon has prioritised the development of hypersonic weapons.

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