China conducted six successful tests of a new high-speed hypersonic glide vehicle, the most recent in November, and also recently tested an anti-satellite missile, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command said Friday.
Adm. Cecil D. Haney, the commander in charge of nuclear forces, said the tests are part of a worrying military buildup by China, which also includes China’s aggressive activities in the South China Sea.
“China continues to make significant military investments in their nuclear and conventional capabilities, with their stated goal being that of defending Chinese sovereignty,” Haney said during a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
“It recently conducted its sixth successful test of a hypersonic glide vehicle, and as we saw in September last year, is parading missiles clearly displaying their modernization and capability advancements,” he added.
The six tests of the hypersonic glide vehicle, regarded by U.S. intelligence agencies as a nuclear delivery system designed to defeat missile defenses, were first reported by the Washington Free Beacon.
Defense officials said the hypersonic glide vehicle tested on Nov. 23, known as DF-ZF, was launched atop a ballistic missile fired from China’s Wuzhai missile test center in central China.
The glider separated from the booster and flew at extremely high speed—between Mach 5 and Mach 10—along the edge of space.
Haney confirmed all six tests were successful, indicating the weapon program is proceeding.
Prior to the November test, the DF-ZF was flight tested Aug. 19.
The earlier tests were carried out on June 7, and on Jan. 9, 2014; Aug. 7, 2014; and Dec. 2, 2014.
Haney described the hypersonic threat as a challenge to U.S. strategic deterrence.
The congressional U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission stated in its latest annual report that the hypersonic glide vehicle program is “progressing rapidly” and the weapon could be deployed by 2020.
China also is building a powered version of the high-speed vehicle that could be fielded by 2025.