Beijing’s test-firing of an orbiting hypersonic missile last summer was China’s longest range land attack weapon tested to date. An intercontinental ballistic missile was reportedly fitted with a hypersonic glide vehicle that enabled it to travel at an ultrahigh speed. The manoeuvring missile is thought to have used what is known as a “fractional orbital bombardment system” (FOBS).
This reportedly let the rocket travel a staggering 24,800 miles in space before reentering the atmosphere and successfully striking a ground target.
According to a Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report on space threats, the test was just one piece of a horrifying puzzle – space weaponry built and deployed by China and Russia aimed at US targets.
The DIA report claims that these weapons are specifically aimed at targeting US satellites that are used by the military for communications and precision-guided missiles.
DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier said: “The loss of space-based communication and navigation services could have a devastating impact on warfighters during a conflict — that’s one of the most serious scenarios anticipated.
“A secure, stable and accessible space domain is crucial as China and Russia’s space-based capabilities and electronic-warfare activities continue to grow.”
The report also claimed that China has been developing space-based weapons since 2006 for attacks on “ground, sea, or air targets from space.”
This also comes as China has been making hundreds of new silos for long-range nuclear missiles.
Beijing has also been constructing an arsenal of anti-satellite weapons and has routinely been firing rockets into space.
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Experts Bleddyn Bowen and Cameron Hunter from the University of Leicester said in a statement: “Either way, this does not change the nuclear balance of terror between Beijing and Washington.”
Prof Bowen added: “It’s still unclear at this time what exactly was tested by the Chinese military.
“But if it was a FOBS-like capability, it is unlikely to be fielded on a large scale due to the expense of fielding the high numbers of the weapons required for a meaningful nuclear capability, the ineffectiveness of U.S. missile defences in defending against China’s existing nuclear weapons, and the very limited gains FOBS provides above and beyond China’s existing nuclear forces on Earth.”