- THE EPOCH TIMES - Frank Fang - OCT 28, 2021 -
Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has called China’s suspected hypersonic missile test “very concerning” and said it was nearly a “Sputnik moment.”
Milley was alluding to the Soviet Union’s launch of Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, in October 1957, which caused anxiety that the United States was falling behind the Soviet Union in technological advancement. Less than a year later, NASA was established to challenge the Soviets in the Cold War-era space race.
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Milley told Bloomberg on Oct. 27. “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”
The Financial Times newspaper first reported on the test earlier this month, saying that the Chinese military launched a rocket carrying a glide vehicle in August that flew through low-orbit space before missing its target by “about two-dozen miles,” citing sources it didn’t identify.
On Oct. 18, China’s foreign ministry denied any hypersonic missile test, saying that it was a “routine test of spacecraft” that took place in July.
Milley’s statements are significant as they’re the first acknowledgment by any U.S. official of China’s suspected test.
Hypersonic missiles can travel at Mach 5, or faster than five times the speed of sound. They could, in theory, be maneuvered to arc over the South Pole to evade U.S. missile defense systems, which are located in the northern hemisphere.
Pentagon spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on Milley’s remarks during a briefing on Oct. 27.
“This is not a technology that is an alien to us that we haven’t been thinking about for a while,” Kirby said. “We have defensive capabilities that we need to continue to hone in to improve.
“Our own pursuit of hypersonic capabilities is real. It’s tangible, and we are absolutely working toward being able to develop that capability.”
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