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Anything with the words “weapons ship” and “mysterious” in the headline will get anyone’s blood pumping. Well, it’s not just a headline; a new report says China’s hypersonic glider craft (supposedly capable of carrying a nuclear warhead has dropped a mysterious payload somewhere in the atmosphere. If these new reports are true, this will offer new insights (even if they are terrifying) into what the new Chinese weapon is. It’s a bird. It’s a plane. Actually, we don’t know what this space weapon is, but damn sure ain’t Superman or the Tesla guy driving the Tesla Roadster.

Chinese rocket launch of hypersonic glider  supposedly able to carry a Chinese nuclear weapon
Chinese rocket launch of hypersonic glider | Chinese Space Agency

What nuclear weapons does China have? 

The Drive cites a Financial Times article from last month that worryingly depicts a new supposedly nuclear-capable, hypersonic glider craft that can circle the globe in orbit before darting back into the atmosphere to strike its target. The most recent test of this craft that we know of took the U.S. Government by surprise.

The Financial Times says that the hypersonic glide vehicle testing missed its target by a couple of dozen miles. This doesn’t offer much reassurance considering the capabilities that are apparently being developed here. This cold-war-style system is called a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System. The goal of this system seems to be able to deliver one of 350 of China’s nuclear weapons to a specific location at over five times the speed of sound. 

What happened with China’s most recent glider test? 

The Financial Times tried to get a statement from the white house on the latest test. Instead, the Government responded with a general statement about the original (as far as we know) test on July 27. 

The most recent Chinese weapons craft testing in August seems to have launched some kind of unknown payload into the atmosphere somewhere over the South China Sea. The craft delivered its payload at over five times the speed of sound, earning its “hypersonic” descriptor. 

Not sure if we can call it good news, but as capable as this FOBS is, the hypersonic gliders will struggle to be as accurate as ballistic missile guidance is today. The difficult thing about the glider’s lack of consistent flight patterns is these crafts are much more difficult to defend against because guessing where it’s going can be far more difficult. 

According to The Drive, John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the July 27 test involved “a long-range missile.” Hyten added: “It went around the world, dropped off a hypersonic glide vehicle that glided all the way back to China, that impacted a target in China.” 

What kind of missiles is this glider firing? 

The confusion around this new Chinese weapon testing is deep and convoluted. Demetri Sevastopulo at the FT reports that the glider fired a “separate missile mid-flight in the atmosphere.” The confusion mounts as the FT article references several unmanned countermeasures, unnamed experts warning of China’s advanced weapons, and more nightmarishly vague James Bond-esque scenarios

This issue has been brought before unnamed “experts at DARPA” who seem as baffled as some other officials, or at least they can’t say enough to make much sense to us, the laypeople. The FT article goes on to mention, “some Pentagon experts believe the projectile was an air-to-air missile.” That doesn’t really add up. 

However, the article also mentions that these “experts at DARPA” think the payload could have been some kind of countermeasures intended to defeat missile defense systems like those now being developed in the United States for protection against nuclear weapons. 

The Drive mentions that the DARPA experts are “unsure how China managed to fire countermeasures from vehicles traveling at hypersonic speeds.” While this sort of thing has been achieved in space, launching a missile from something moving at hypersonic speeds might very well indicate a significant technological breakthrough for the Chinese.

What now? 

All we can say for sure is that we really don’t know what China is up to in regards to this boggling and mysterious hypersonic glider and what it launched. Hell, we don’t even know if this was the first one of its kind or if it’s just the first one we found out about. Until more information comes to light, all we can do is wait and speculate. Both of which won’t do much to put any fears at ease. 


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