FT: China fires missile from supersonic weapon

A British newspaper says China fired a missile from a hypersonic weapon over the South China Sea in a test of the system this summer.

China reportedly carried out a test of a nuclear-capable hypersonic weapon, which travels at more than five times the speed of sound, with the ability to maneuver in flight. The weapon is believed to be difficult to intercept.

China is said to have loaded the hypersonic weapon on a rocket, and maneuvered the weapon in space to glide toward a target on the ground.

The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the hypersonic-glide vehicle fired a separate missile mid-flight over the South China Sea, citing people familiar with the intelligence.

The newspaper says that some officials at the US Department of Defense believe the projectile was a countermeasure designed to destroy missile-defense systems.

US military experts have been analyzing data related to the test to understand how China gained the capability that no other country previously demonstrated.

The United States and Russia have also been developing hypersonic weapon systems. The US is wary of China's rapid improvements to the needed technologies.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian told reporters on Monday that it was a routine test of spacecraft to verify the spacecraft's reusability.

He also said that after separating from the spacecraft before its return, the supporting devices would have burned up when entering the earth's atmosphere.