In a "technological breakthrough," China has successfully tested its first wave rider hypersonic aircraft that can carry nuclear warheads and break through any current generation anti-missile defence system due to its high speed and "unpredictable trajectory".
The test of the Xingkong-2, or Starry Sky-2, was conducted in a target range located in northwest China on Friday, China's state media reported.
It flew independently, made large-angle turning manoeuvres and landed in the targeted area as planned,
Launched in a rocket, the wave rider was released in the air after about 10 minutes.
It flew independently, made large-angle turning manoeuvres and landed in the targeted area as planned.
The flight vehicle reached 30 km in altitude at Mach 5.5-6, a statement by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) under China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp said.
Wave rider is a flight vehicle that flies in the atmosphere and uses shockwaves generated by its own hypersonic flight with the air to glide at high speed, Song Zhongping, a military expert, told the Global Times.
Various parameters were proved and the flight vehicle was fully recovered, which marks the successful launch of Xingkong-2 and the first flight of a Chinese wave rider.
"Announcing the successful test to the public indicates that China must have already made a technological breakthrough with the weapon," Song said.
The wave rider is expected to be tested more frequently in future before being handed over for deployment to the People's Liberation Army, he said.
The current generation of anti-missile defence systems is mainly designed to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles, which are either slower or easier to predict, making them possible to intercept.
But the trajectory of a wave rider is relatively unpredictable in the glide and it flies so fast that it poses an extreme challenge to current anti-missile defence systems, Song noted.