The new hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), dubbed the WU-14 was allegedly spotted flying at record-breaking speeds during a flight test over China on January 9, an anonymous Pentagon official told the Washington Free Beacon. The new weapon delivery system is reportedly designed to be launched as the final stage of China’s intercontinental ballistic missile, which would approach its target at a velocity of up to 10 times the speed of sound. Hypersonic speed range lies between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or 3,840 to 7,680 miles per hour.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed the Chinese test launch but declined to provide details. “We routinely monitor foreign defense activities and we are aware of this test,” Lt. Col. Jeffrey Pool, a Marine Corps spokesman, told the Washington Free Beacon. “However, we don’t comment on our intelligence or assessments of foreign weapon systems,” Pool said in a statement. “We encourage greater transparency regarding their defense investments and objectives to avoid miscalculation,” he added.
Hypersonic vehicles, which are also being designed by the US, India and Russia, are developed for precise targeting, rapid delivery of weapons, and are being tested to outmaneuver hostile missiles and space defenses.