China successfully completed a seventh flight test of its new hypersonic warhead system last week in the northern central Shanxi province, according to an article on People’s Daily Online.
The test of the developmental "DF-ZF" was monitored after launch Friday atop a ballistic missile fired from the Wuzhai missile launch center in central China, said officials.
The system can travel at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10, which is 5 to 10 times the speed of sound. U.S. intelligence fears that Beijing may use DF-ZF to “deliver nuclear weapons bypassing even the most complex of missile defense systems.”
Chinese Defense Ministry spokesman first confirmed China’s hypersonic missile test in March 2015, saying that the missile test was not aimed at any country and was done for scientific research.
The U.S. Air Force made an attempt a a supersonic delivery system in 2014. The hypersonic vehicle built by Boeing Co. climbed to 60,000 feet, accelerated to Mach 5.1 and flew for about three and a half minutes before running out of fuel and plunging into the Pacific Ocean.
Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic forces specialist, said the new Chinese hypersonic glider is a serious threat.
“The Chinese probably see this as one of their ‘assassin’s mace’ weapons which are designed to defeat the U.S.”
According to Schneider, a National Academy of Science study concluded that hypersonic speed was the equivalent very high levels of radar-evading stealth features against air and missile defenses.
“Hypersonic speed also gets you to the target very fast which may be decisive in dealing with mobile targets,” he said.