China’s missile launch very concerning, says top US General Mark Milley

Insight Online News

Washington, Oct 28 : Top US general Mark Milley has said that China’s suspected hypersonic missile test is close to a Sputnik moment, and termed it very concerning – in the first official US confirmation of a Chinese hypersonic weapons test.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley in an interview with Bloomberg News said that the Chinese military is “expanding rapidly”.

Beijing has denied any missile test, saying instead it was a spacecraft.

The Pentagon has so far avoided confirmation of the Chinese test, which was first reported by the Financial Times.

“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Gen Milley said.

“I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”

The Sputnik moment – refers to Russia’s 1957 launch of the first man-made satellite, which put Moscow ahead in the Cold War-era space race.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby refused to comment on the general’s remarks at a Wednesday briefing, saying: “This is not a technology that is alien to us, that we haven’t been thinking about for a while.”

He added that the US is working to strengthen defence systems and pursuing its own hypersonic capabilities.

Hypersonic missiles are capable of travelling at five times the speed of sound.

They are considered more manoeuvrable than conventional missiles and more capable of avoiding interception from air defence.

The Chinese missile circled the Earth at a low altitude and a velocity of more than five times the speed of sound, although it missed its target by more than 30 km, according to the Financial Times on October 16. According to the report, the missile can be launched into orbit before coming back into the atmosphere to hit its target.

The United States, Russia, China and North Korea have all tested hypersonics and several others are developing the technology.

Earlier in 2019, China unveiled a hypersonic medium-range missile, the DF-17, which can travel around 2,000 km and can carry nuclear warheads.


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