Tuesday, June 12, 2018
Chinese researchers have been publishing technical papers at a blistering pace about their fundamental research into hypersonic flight, loosely defined as maneuvering in the atmosphere at speeds above 6,000 kph. Flying faster than Mach 5 could be a handy way to travel, but for the leaders in this field — China, Russia and the U.S. — the emphasis has shifted to weapons. At least some of China’s research appears to be headed in that direction, based on references to missiles in the published papers, although my inquiries to the Chinese Embassy’s press office about the purpose of this research went unreturned. The Pentagon reported to Congress earlier this year that China has conducted 20 times as many hypersonic flight tests as the U.S. The most noteworthy recent test was in November, when China flew a new hypersonic missile, the DF-17, capable of flying 1,800 to 2,500 kilometers, as first reported by The Diplomat website.