WASHINGTON. China’s test of a hypersonic missile designed to bypass US nuclear defenses was “very close” to “satellite moment” for the United States, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General Mark A. Milli said Wednesday. , the first official confirmation of how Beijing’s demonstration of its capabilities took US officials by surprise.
This summer, two separate tests were carried out in such a way that Chinese officials knew they would be clearly visible to American satellites. But the United States said nothing about this.
The tests were notable in that hypersonic missiles can quickly maneuver and change course while flying below low-earth orbit. They are nearly impossible to intercept with existing US defenses designed for ICBMs, which travel on a predictable trajectory into space and re-enter the atmosphere. The Chinese tests were conducted in such a way that it was clear that a hypersonic rocket could be launched and flown over Antarctica; All existing American defenses are directed west and north over the Pacific, which means they will be useless to repel an attack from the south.
“I don’t know if this is a moment for Sputnik, but I think it is very close to it,” General Millie told David Rubinstein, a billionaire and philanthropist who is interviewing for Bloomberg Television. The tests were “a very significant technological development,” he said, and he said that “they got all of our attention.”
The satellite was launched in 1957 by a Soviet satellite. This sparked fears in Washington that the Soviets were advancing in the space race, and led to President John F. Kennedy’s announcement that the United States would be the first to land humans on the moon – an achievement that was achieved in less than ten years. … But it also spurred the 20th century nuclear arms race, which only came to a halt in the last 30 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union.
Now the arms race is threatening to revive. The United States has its own active hypersonic program, as does Russia and North Korea, among others. But the US program has run into technical difficulties of its own, and the China test, which also appears to have not been entirely successful, may well be the basis of a new arms race at the very moment President Biden has been looking forward to. ways to avoid the proposed trillion dollar modernization of US nuclear forces and delivery systems.