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Top U.S. general confirms 'very concerning' Chinese hypersonic weapons test

Zarvan

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Top U.S. general confirms 'very concerning' Chinese hypersonic weapons test
By Phil Stewart


WASHINGTON, Oct 27 (Reuters) - The top U.S. military officer, General Mark Milley, has provided the first official U.S. confirmation of a Chinese hypersonic weapons test that military experts say appears to show Beijing's pursuit of an Earth-orbiting system designed to evade American missile defenses.

The Pentagon has been at pains to avoid direct confirmation of the Chinese test this summer, first reported by the Financial Times, even as President Joe Biden and other officials have expressed general concerns about Chinese hypersonic weapons development.

But Milley explicitly confirmed a test and said that it was "very close" to a Sputnik moment -- referring Russia's 1957 launch of the first man-made satellite, which put Moscow ahead in the Cold War-era space race.

"What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning," Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told Bloomberg television, in an interview aired on Wednesday.

Nuclear arms experts say China's weapons test appeared to be designed to evade U.S. defenses in two ways. First, hypersonics move at speeds of more than five times the speed of sound, or about 6,200 kph (3,853 mph), making them harder to detect and intercept.

Second, sources tell Reuters that the United States believes China's test involved a weapon that first orbited the Earth. That's something military experts say is a Cold War concept known as "fractional orbital bombardment."

Last month, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall alluded to his concerns about such a system, telling reporters about a weapon that would go into an orbit and then descend on a target.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, responds to questions during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, U.S. Army General Mark A. Milley, responds to questions during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on "Ending the U.S. Military Mission in Afghanistan" in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington, U.S., September 29, 2021. Rod Lamkey/Pool via REUTERS

"If you use that kind of an approach, you don't have to use a traditional ICBM trajectory -- which is directly from the point of launch to the point of impact," he said.

"It's a way to avoid defenses and missile warning systems."

Fractional Orbital Bombardment would also be a way for China to avoid U.S. missile defenses in Alaska, which are designed to combat a limited number of weapons from a country like North Korea.

Jeffrey Lewis at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies summed up fractional orbital bombardment this way: "The simplest way to think about China's orbital bombardment system is to imagine a space shuttle, put a nuclear weapon into the cargo bay, and forget about the landing gear."

Lewis said the difference is that the Chinese re-entry system is a glider.

China's foreign ministry denied a weapons test. It said it had carried out a routine test in July, but added: "It was not a missile, it was a space vehicle."

U.S. defenses are not capable of combating a large-scale attack from China or Russia, which could overwhelm the system. But the open U.S. pursuit of more and more advanced missile defenses has led Moscow and Beijing to examine ways to defeat them, experts say, including hypersonics and, apparently, fractional orbital bombardment.

The United States and Russia have both tested hypersonic weapons.

Reporting by Phil Stewart Editing by Alistair Bell

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.


Top U.S. general confirms 'very concerning' Chinese hypersonic weapons test | Reuters
 
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Shotgunner51

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fractional orbital bombardment
avoid U.S. missile defenses in Alaska
imagine a space shuttle, put a nuclear weapon into the cargo bay, and forget about the landing gear.
Yes these are the key points I've mentioned previously. FOBS has unlimited range and can attack US soil from all directions avoiding North Pole, HGV can penetrate missile defence, making FOBS+HGV an attractive delivery option. Currently deployed 1st gen HGV on DF-17 is estimated to ramjet ~1200 secs or roughly 2000 km in max range, I guess larger HGV that carries more fuel can reach at least 3000+ km after re-entry from orbit.

 

Hakikat ve Hikmet

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Why being concerned now?!?!

Based on false flag ops, concocted by the non-US folks, you spent a couple of decades burning trillions of the tax payers money on the wild goose chase!! Where are the Islamic militants now?!? Now, you find yourselves dumbfounded as the Chinese have got the upper hand!! This is the ultimate price of mediocracy…..
 

redtom

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Suborbital bombers, carrying several tons of payload, enter suborbit, release a dozen hypersonic warheads at Mach 20, accurately hit a target thousands of kilometers away, even a moving warship, and return to the airfield.Strike a target anywhere on the planet in less than an hour.

Or a suborbital fighter jet that launches an air-to-air missile at Mach 10 and hits a vehicle hundreds of kilometers away, or even a low-orbit satellite.An airplane controls thousands of kilometers of airspace.
 

Brainsucker

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The war will shifted into orbital battlefield. Basically, FOB is not unbeatable. But to counter an FOB, you need a weaponized spacecraft. If this trend continue, air superiority will has no meaning anymore. It will be orbital superiority between China and US.
 

Oldman1

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Yes these are the key points I've mentioned previously. FOBS has unlimited range and can attack US soil from all directions avoiding North Pole, HGV can penetrate missile defence, making FOBS+HGV an attractive delivery option. Currently deployed 1st gen HGV on DF-17 is estimated to ramjet ~1200 secs or roughly 2000 km in max range, I guess larger HGV that carries more fuel can reach at least 3000+ km after re-entry from orbit.

I suspect in the future there be X37B type aircraft orbiting over or near China in the future, similar to SSBNs but in space. Response time is probably less than 2 minutes with re-entry warheads probably even MARV type to avoid defenses.
 

Shotgunner51

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I suspect in the future there be X37B type aircraft orbiting over or near China in the future, similar to SSBNs but in space. Response time is probably less than 2 minutes with re-entry warheads probably even MARV type to avoid defenses.
Well bro perhaps you're right, but who knows! The X37B concept functions just like other orbital device or FOBS except it stress re-usability, so if it has to stay fixed over China then it needs to get up to GEO, which is 36,000 km from earth surface, 2 min response time is harsh don't you think? In fact it's designed for LEO where orbital period is 90-120 minutes, but that's also exactly the time interval between attack windows, perhaps war has already finished during that time and adversary ASAT already awaiting somewhere to target the device, is that a possible scenario? More importantly, the adversary can deploy orbital assets with HGV let alone MaRV capability on LEO easily, any time even now as we speak, so X37B even if materialized may find itself only joining the club up there.
 
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serenity

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I suspect in the future there be X37B type aircraft orbiting over or near China in the future, similar to SSBNs but in space. Response time is probably less than 2 minutes with re-entry warheads probably even MARV type to avoid defenses.
I doubt China would allow that. China already has these things and can send to orbit around US like you said. If US wants to escalate like this, China can do it today and circle nukes around US as well. You still think you are the only one with weapons and ability to destroy others.
 

Akasa

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People need to understand that things like FOBS cannot be switched on and left on idle until it is used. These weapons orbit at an altitude of 150 kilometers, far too low for a sustained orbit unless they're frequently boosted by other spacecraft. So neither the US nor China would be able to implement FOBS for a long time without incurring massive costs.

These weapons will be launched only when the aggressor nation is intent on using them, which would already give the defender enough of a warning to enact their own defensive procedures.
 

Oldman1

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I doubt China would allow that. China already has these things and can send to orbit around US like you said. If US wants to escalate like this, China can do it today and circle nukes around US as well. You still think you are the only one with weapons and ability to destroy others.
Yet China would allow U.S. SSBNs in the Pacific Ocean close to China?
Well bro perhaps you're right, but who knows! The X37B concept functions just like other orbital device or FOBS except it stress re-usability, so if it has to stay fixed over China then it needs to get up to GEO, which is 36,000 km from earth surface, 2 min response time is harsh don't you think? In fact it's designed for LEO where orbital period is 90-120 minutes, but that's also exactly the time interval between attack windows, perhaps war has already finished during that time and adversary ASAT already awaiting somewhere to target the device, is that a possible scenario? More importantly, the adversary can deploy orbital assets with HGV let alone MaRV capability on LEO easily, any time even now as we speak, so X37B even if materialized may find itself only joining the club up there.
That is a good point, one of the pros is that its beyond the reach of China's ABM systems. Another is the U.S. wouldn't just deploy 1 X37B type, could deploy dozens, it would be multiple spacecraft to cover all intervals in the gaps (similar to having 14 SSBNs when you have submarines being rotated or being overhauled or repaired), and we don't know how far MARVs can travel, probably 1,000 to 2,000km range considering the X-37bs are already moving more than 17,000mph so just within the range of its warheads, not have to be directly over the country its targeting.
 
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serenity

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Yet China would allow U.S. SSBNs in the Pacific Ocean close to China?
US SSBNs can travel wherever they want. Leave SSBN out of this topic of conversation.

You are deeply unhappy about China being able to fly hypersonic craft around the earth inside the atmosphere where this can be used as a nuclear delivery. China has flown this and tested it many many times. Many Chinese HGV test flights as said by General Milley over what we imagine to be since 2000s.

Now you want to tell the whole world USA is big man and has SSBN around China. Cool story what is new?

Please remember that China can nuke the entire USA once over. USA since 1960s could nuke China 100 times over. That is all. China just wants to guarantee USA fries if USA ever pushes buttons. That's all there is. No need for you to get so butthurt.

Again leave SSBN out. US SSBN have always been around. If they fire on China, China would fire 1000 nuclear warheads on the US and fry you just as bad. One dip in frying pan is just as bad as 100 dips in the frying pan.

The whole point is China wanted to counter US ABM and all these things are simply updates.

Then here you come wanting to tell this forum how the USA can orbit nukes around China. All I'm saying is if the US did that, China would simply do the same. No need for any butthurt. We know you are supa dupa strong.
 

Oldman1

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US SSBNs can travel wherever they want. Leave SSBN out of this topic of conversation.

You are deeply unhappy about China being able to fly hypersonic craft around the earth inside the atmosphere where this can be used as a nuclear delivery. China has flown this and tested it many many times. Many Chinese HGV test flights as said by General Milley over what we imagine to be since 2000s.

Now you want to tell the whole world USA is big man and has SSBN around China. Cool story what is new?

Please remember that China can nuke the entire USA once over. USA since 1960s could nuke China 100 times over. That is all. China just wants to guarantee USA fries if USA ever pushes buttons. That's all there is. No need for you to get so butthurt.

Again leave SSBN out. US SSBN have always been around. If they fire on China, China would fire 1000 nuclear warheads on the US and fry you just as bad. One dip in frying pan is just as bad as 100 dips in the frying pan.

The whole point is China wanted to counter US ABM and all these things are simply updates.

Then here you come wanting to tell this forum how the USA can orbit nukes around China. All I'm saying is if the US did that, China would simply do the same. No need for any butthurt. We know you are supa dupa strong.
LOL! Poor attempt to take that out the window with no counter argument. Whether placing nukes in land, sea, air or even space, attempting to say China won't allow it is very naive.
 

serenity

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LOL! Poor attempt to take that out the window with no counter argument. Whether placing nukes in land, sea, air or even space, attempting to say China won't allow it is very naive.
It is like saying USA didn't allow Cuba and USSR to place nukes in Cuba. Same thing you understand? Did it happen anyway? of course but did the US also respond to USSR? of course.

Same thing with US putting nukes in orbit around China. Your panties are twisted and you desperately want to say USA strong with irrelevant things like USA could orbit nukes around China. It could but China won't allow that and will respond in a way that gives the USA a price for doing such a thing. Perhaps putting nukes in orbit around US would be my guess.
 

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