Could New ChiCom Missile Sweep the Navy from the Pacific?
By Harold Hutchison
ChiCom tests of a hypersonic weapon could point to a new threat to the Pacific Fleet, especially since such a weapon could be used to deliver nuclear or conventional warheads against targets.
According to a report by the Washington Free Beacon, the hypersonic vehicle tested by the ChiComs was described by Lee Fuell from the Air Force National Air and Space Intelligence Center as “a ballistic missile-launched system that gets the target—or gets the payload fast and high, pitches over, dives to hypersonic speed, and then basically just glides to the target.”
Fuell noted the hypersonic system could be used to try to defeat American missile defense systems. “If that’s combined with more traditional ballistic missile attacks forcing a target to defend against very high aspect warheads coming in this way at the same time they have to defend against low altitude, very high speed targets coming in this way, it makes the defense problems orders of magnitude better,” he told the commission.
ChiCom tests of a hypersonic vehicle were reported last month. During a 23 January press conference, Admiral Samuel Locklear, commander of Pacific Command noted, “I think this is just one of many -- as I talk about earlier in my remarks, this is just one of many highly technical militarized systems that -- that -- whether the Chinese are developing them or we're developing them or Europeans are developing -- that will continue to complicate the security environment with high-tech technology and the systems.”
According to one report, the ChiCom system can travel at Mach 10 – ten times the speed of sound. That is twice as fast as the Russian Kh-15, called the AS-16 Kickback by NATO.