of the Falcon Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2
by DARPA, image from darpa.mil
China has successfully tested its first
hypersonic missile delivery vehicle capable of
penetrating US missile defense system and
delivering nuclear warheads with record
breaking speeds, Pentagon officials have
The new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV),
dubbed the WU-14 was allegedly spotted flying
at record-breaking speeds during a flight test
over China on January 9, an anonymous Pentagon
official told the Washington Free Beacon.
The new weapon delivery system is reportedly
designed to be launched as the final stage of
China’s intercontinental ballistic missile,
which would approach its target at a velocity
of up to 10 times the speed of sound.
Hypersonic speed range lies between Mach 5 and
Mach 10, or 3,840 to 7,680 miles per hour.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the Chinese test
launch but declined to provide details.
“We routinely monitor foreign defense
activities and we are aware of this test,” Lt.
Col. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine Corps spokesman,
told the Washington Free Beacon.
“However, we don’t comment on our
intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon
systems,” Pool said in a statement.
“We encourage greater transparency regarding
their defense investments and objectives to
avoid miscalculation,” he added.
Hypersonic vehicles, which are also being
designed by the US, India and Russia, are
developed for precise targeting, rapid delivery
of weapons, and are being tested to outmaneuver
hostile missiles and space defenses.
“A boost glide missile theoretically would
be intended to counter existing mid-course
missile defenses,” Mark Stokes, a former
US Air Force officer told the Washington Free
Strokes explained that China is developing two
hypersonic flight vehicle programs – one
believed to be of a post-boost vehicle designed
to be deployed from a missile that pursues its
target from near space, or some 62 miles from
earth. Basing his hypothesis on emerging
reports from China, Stokes believes that
hypersonic glide vehicles could reach Mach 12
speeds of up to 9,127 miles per hour,
potentially compromising a US missile defense.
“The beauty of the HGV is that it can perform
hypersonic precision strikes while maintaining
a relatively low altitude and flat trajectory,
making it far less vulnerable to missile
defenses,” Rick Fisher, an analyst at the
International Assessment and Strategy Center,
told the Washington Free Beacon.
“With the integration of strategic analysis and
planning into technical research, China’s
pursuit of hypersonic and high-precision
weaponry promises to be faster and more focused
than that associated with its previous
[anti-satellite] and [ballistic missile defense]
related research and programs,” Lora
Saalman, a specialist on Chinese strategic
systems with the Carnegie Endowment Saalman
said in an email to the publication. “This
recent test is a manifestation of this trend.”
The Chinese are “actively seeking global
military power to challenge the United States,
and it is not yet in any mood to talk, or
engage in arms control, about it,” Fisher
In May, the Pentagon’s assessment of Chinese
capabilities suggested that China built the
world’s largest shockwave hypersonic wind
tunnel capable of generating test flying
conditions of up to Mach 9 speeds.
Two Chinese technical papers from December 2012
and April 2013 revealed that the country is
developing precision guidance systems designed
to be directed via satellite. The second
Chinese paper concluded that hypersonic weapons
pose “a new aerospace threat.”
Current American hypersonic research is being
conducted through the FALCON program in
association with the Pentagon and Air Force.
The US is in the process of perfecting Lockheed
HTV-2, an unmanned, missile-launched aircraft
capable of gaining speeds of up to Mach 20, or
13,000 miles per hour. The US Air Force is also
testing the X-37B Space Plane, which has been
orbiting earth since December 2012.
At the same time Boeing is working on the X-51
WaveRider, a jet-fueled, air-breathing
hypersonic rocket developed for the Air Force
to be used for hypersonic attack and
Russia too has confirmed the development of
similar ultrasonic technology. The Air Force
National Air and Space Intelligence Center said
in its annual report that Russia is building
“a new class of hypersonic vehicle”
that would “allow Russian strategic
missiles to penetrate missile defense systems.”
“We are experiencing a revolution in
military science,” Russian deputy prime
minister Dmitry Rogozin said last June, after
the 4th test of an advanced road-mobile ICBM, a
“missile defense killer” called the
RS-26 Rubezh (‘frontier’). “Neither current
nor future American missile defense systems
will be able to prevent that missile from
hitting a target dead on.” Moscow is also
developing the S-500 air and space defense
system, with interceptors capable of shooting
down hypersonic missiles.