China has successfully tested Starry Sky-2, a new hypersonic aircraft, experimental “waverider” vehicle, which rides the shock waves generated during hypersonic flight, reaching 7,344 km per hour (4,563 mph) with a high degree of maneuverability along the way.
The test on Friday was the first time China publicly disclosed the development of the waverider. Chinese officials said the design of the Starry Sky 2 took three years to develop. The US’s existing missile defense systems, criticized for their high price and spotty track record, struggle to intercept more conventional projectiles, much less hypersonic aircraft. China, Russia, and the US are the main contenders in the hypersonic arena, and are engaged in what some see as a new arms race based on the technology.
Chinese waverider aircraft test
Admiral Harry Harris, former head of the US Pacific Command and now the ambassador to South Korea, said in February, “China’s hypersonic weapons development outpaces ours… we’re falling behind.” More, in March, air force general John Hyten, commander of US Strategic Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee, “We don’t have any defense that could deny the employment of such a weapon against us.” The new flight vehicle is capable of carrying nuclear weapons and allegedly able to penetrate any missile defense system. However the technology may be adapted to a civilian role, including in industrial transport.