søndag 24. oktober 2021

China's hypersonic test - does it signal a new arms race?

The news that China had tested a new nuclear-capable hypersonic missile was described by some as a game-changer that stunned US officials. So how big a deal is this, asks Jonathan Marcus of the Strategy and Security Institute, University of Exeter. Twice in the summer, the Chinese military launched a rocket into space that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.

On the first occasion, it missed its target by about 24 miles (40 km), according to people briefed on the intelligence speaking to the Financial Times, which broke the story. While some US politicians and commentators were alarmed at China's apparent progress, Beijing was quick to deny the report, insisting that this was in fact the test of a re-usable spacecraft. China's denial is "an act of obfuscation" says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Non-Proliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, California, because the story has been confirmed by US officials speaking to other media.