Friday, November 27, 2015

China Conducted Hypersonic Boost Glide Weapon Test on November 23, 2015

A sixth test of China's hypersonic manoeuvring strike vehicle, the DF-ZF (previously designated the WU-14), took place on 23 November, according to US officials.

China had signalled that this test was imminent on 18 November when it issued a notice to airmen (NOTAM) covering the same areas as its fifth test on 19 August 2015.

US officials said the latest test achieved a speed of "beyond Mach 5" and was called a "success", according to a 25 November 2015 report in the Washington Free Beacon .

Previous tests occurred on 7 June 2015, 2 December 2014, 7 August 2014, and 9 January 2014. Only the 7 August 2014 test was called a "failure" by US officials.

As with previous tests, this one was launched from the Taiyuan Satellite Launch Centre in Shanxi Province, where China's People's Liberation Army (PLA) tests most of its long-range missiles.

The key advantages of a boosted hypersonic manoeuvring vehicle are that it can radically change its trajectory to avoid missile defences and has 'gliding' capabilities that give an extended range over that of a conventional ballistic missile warhead.

While a hypersonic manoeuvring strike vehicle could be nuclear armed, it is also likely that China plans such warheads to perform non-nuclear precision strike missions, such as arming a next-generation anti-ship ballistic missile (ASBM).

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