China has conducted a test with a hypersonic missile in mid-August, US top general Mark Milley confirms. Milley calls the Chinese missile test “very worrying” and even draws a comparison with the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in 1957.
The Financial Times was the first to report on the secret Chinese hypersonic missile test a decade ago. Mark Milley, a senior military officer in the Pentagon, has admitted that it surprised the Americans. In an interview with Bloomberg TV, the top general spoke of a “very concerning test of a hypersonic weapon system”.
Milley drew a comparison with the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik in October 1957. It also came as a surprise to the United States and is widely regarded as the starting point of the space race. “I don’t know if it’s completely the same as with the Sputnik, but I think it’s very close,” said Mark Milley.
It is the first time that a US government source has publicly confirmed the Financial Times reporting. The British business newspaper reported that China conducted a test last summer with a hyper-supersonic missile that offers new nuclear capabilities. That rocket flew into low Earth orbit in August before descending on its target, missed several tens of kilometres away.
The United States does not yet have hypersonic missiles, but they are working on it. The Chinese authorities deny that a secret missile test was carried out and speak of “a routine test with a spacecraft”. Hypersupersonic missiles fly five times faster than sound and can be loaded with nuclear weapons. In addition, unlike ballistic missiles, they fly low in the atmosphere, potentially allowing them to reach their target faster.