Earlier this year, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said China’s increased pursuit of hypersonic weapons has raised “tensions in the region.” There are now new reports that the PRC is ratcheting up that development be building a prototype hypersonic missile based on a discarded NASA design!
According to reporting in the New York Post and other media outlets, A Chinese research team has built and tested a prototype based on a radical design by an American space agency scientist more than two decades ago.
Most hypersonic aircraft have an engine at the belly. But the experimental Two-Stage Vehicle (TSV) X-plane was driven by two separate engines on the sides.
It was originally proposed by Ming Han Tang, a Chinese American who was the chief engineer of Nasa’s hypersonic program in the late 1990s. The engines could switch to a high-speed mode and accelerate to more than five times the speed of sound.
Yet the Boeing Manta X-47C, a program to test Tang’s design, was ditched by the US government in the early 2000s because it was deemed too costly.
In today’s rapidly militarizing China, however, money is no object — especially if it keeps the communist regime ahead in the “new” arms race with the West.
Professor Tan Huijun and his colleagues at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the eastern province of Jiangsu have built a prototype machine based on Tang’s original blueprint.
The design has attracted increasing attention because “understanding its work mechanism can provide important guidance to hypersonic plane and engine development,” Tan and colleagues said in a paper published in the Chinese peer-reviewed Journal of Propulsion Technology.
It comes as China fired a hypersonic missile around the globe in October, with the US left reeling by the terrifying display of military strength.
US intelligence and military officials were reportedly left stunned this past August after China launched a rocket in space carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.
The nuke-capable missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles when it was secretly launched in August; intelligence sources told the Financial Times.
That test left a cold chill down the spines of US officials and showed how China has made astonishing progress on the development of its hypersonic weapons.
A hypersonic missile travels five times faster than the speed of sound and can reach distances of up to 1,500 miles. In recent years, Russia has already been using the technology to build cutting-edge missiles.
China has been scrambling to catch up by also building powerful weapons in a terrifying arms race.
An Asian national security official and a Chinese security expert close to the People’s Liberation Army said the weapon in China was being developed by the country’s Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics.
A number of rocket launches have been publicly announced by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology – but the hypersonic missile test in August was reportedly kept secret.
In October of 2021, the US successfully tested its own hypersonic missile technology.
The test, conducted at a NASA facility in Wallops, Virginia, is a “vital step in the development of a Navy-designed common hypersonic missile,” the navy said in a statement.
“This test demonstrated advanced hypersonic technologies, capabilities, and prototype systems in a realistic operating environment,” it said.
The US is committed to developing a range of advanced hypersonic systems and has recently awarded Lockheed Martin contracts for the development of two systems: the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon ($928 million) and AGM-183A Air-launched Rapid Response Weapon ($480m).