Top US general: China missile test ‘very close’ to Sputnik moment | News of weapons

Gen. Mark Millie, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said China’s weapons tests have historical implications.

Top U.S. General Mark Millie has called China’s recent hypersonic missile test “very close” to the Sputnik moment.

In an interview with Bloomberg TV, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff called it a “test of a hypersonic weapons system” – first reported by the Financial Times last week – a “very important technical event that happened”.

“I don’t know if it’s a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close,” he said in a broadcast interview on Wednesday, referring to the 1957 launch of a satellite into the Soviet Union that signaled their significant leadership. The so-called “space race” with the United States that defined that era.

Like the Sputnik launch, analysts say China’s test could start an ongoing technological competition between superpowers on hyperdrive.

Millie added that the development of China’s weapons system was “very worrying”.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that China had tested not one, but two of a new hypersonic weapons system, which analysts said could deliver payloads extremely quickly, bypassing modern radar systems and possibly surpassing current U.S. capabilities.

The newspaper reported that on July 27, Beijing launched a rocket that for the first time deployed a “fractional orbital bombing” system to operate a nuclear-capable “hypersonic glide vehicle” around the earth.

On August 13, China conducted its second hypersonic test, according to the newspaper, which described U.S. officials as “stunned” and “struggling to understand” the capabilities of the new technology.

Millie’s comments represent the most significant public acknowledgment to date from U.S. defense officials about the test and its impact. After the initial report of the test, US President Joe Biden said he was concerned about the development.

Beijing, for its part, has denied testing a hypersonic weapon, instead saying the test was a reusable “spacecraft.”

Changes in the ‘character of war’

In an interview with Bloomberg, Millie said the United States is “clearly experimenting and testing and developing technologies to cover a wide range – hypersonic, artificial intelligence, robotics.”

A few days ago, the Pentagon announced that it had conducted three tests on components that would inform the development of the U.S. hypersonic weapons system.

However, on Tuesday, the head of major defense contractor Raytheon warned that the United States was at least “a few years behind” in developing technologies tested by China.

Millie added that China’s technology and weapons capabilities are “expanding rapidly,” and that the United States needs to adapt.

“Now, if you go one step further, we are in the most significant change in what we are in history, in what we call the ‘character of war,'” Millie said. “We need to adjust our military to the front.”

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