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China tests hypersonic strike vehicle that can breach US missile shield

China has tested a hypersonic strike vehicle, signaling that Beijing is working on a new ultra- high speed weapon system that can breach the existing missile shield of the United States.

The Chinese Defence Ministry has confirmed an earlier assertion of U.S. defence officials that Beijing had tested Wu-14, a hypersonic glide vehicle. It said that the scientific test in western China was “not directed against any specific country or target.” However, it said that the test was part of China’s strategic nuclear programme.

A separate article posted on the Chinese Defence Ministry’s website quoted Igor Korotchenko, director of the Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade of Russia as saying that the testing of the hypersonic vehicle proved China's enhanced capability to overcome the missile defence system of the United States.

The Russian news agency RIA-Novosti had revealed that the WU-14, launched by an intercontinental ballistic missile, separated from the missile in the upper atmosphere. It then glided and dived towards the earth at a speed that may be 10 times that of the velocity of sound, reaching around 12,800 km an hour — good enough to breach existing anti-missile defences.

Analysts say that the test coincided with the growing militarization of the Western Pacific, and tensions resulting from maritime disputes in the energy- rich South China Sea.

China is concerned about Washington’s intent to deploy 60 per cent of its naval and air forces in the Asian-Pacific region, under its “Asia Pivot” doctrine, despite its decision to cut down the size of U.S. Army from 520,000 to 440,000.

Speaking in November at the 13th Forum for National Security of China, Zhao Nanqi, vice-chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), said that the Western Pacific is “an intersection of four major strategic powers, namely China, America, Russia and Japan, with a very complicated strategic situation”.

He added: “To safeguard the national security of China, it is very important for us to have an in-depth study and analysis of the strategic situation in the Western Pacific, see the security pattern in the West Pacific clearly, and have in our hands the initiative of safeguarding peace and stability in the Asian-Pacific region.”

Observers say that the imposition of sanctions against Russia following the crisis in Ukraine has significantly strengthened the

strategic cohesion between Beijing and Moscow. The Russian Tactical Missile Weapon Company is also now engaged in the research and development of hypersonic technology, which had been frozen in the 1980s.

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Printable version | Apr 20, 2021 10:34:10 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/world/china-tests-hypersonic-strike-vehicle-that-can-breach-us-missile-shield/article6689222.ece

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