US military chief has expressed concern over China’s recent suspected test of a hypersonic weapon system, saying that is significant and very concerning.
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Mark Milley said in an interview with Bloomberg News Wednesday.
Gen Milley was referring to Pentagon’s claims that China test fired two hypersonic missiles over the summer. China denies reports that it tested nuclear-capable missile that can evade US air defense systems. It was a spacecraft, according to Beijing.
China’s recent test of a hypersonic weapon system is an example of why the U.S. military is concerned about Chinese intentions, according to the four-star general.
“I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention,” Gen. Milley said on Bloomberg News’ David Rubenstein Show.
He noted the Chinese are expanding rapidly in all domains of warfare — land, sea, air, cyber and space. “They have gone from a peasant army that was very, very large in 1979 to a very capable military that covers all domains, and has global ambitions. China is very significant on our horizon.”
The commander of U.S. Strategic Command warned in August that Beijing is pursuing advanced weapons such as hypersonic missiles, and that the United States’ current terrestrial- and space-based sensor architecture may not be sufficient to detect and track them.
Defense Department spokesman John Kirby refused to comment on Gen. Milley’s remarks at a news conference Wednesday, but said, “This is not a technology that is an alien to us that that we haven’t been thinking about for a while.”
Kirby emphasized that China’s development of a wide range of systems and capabilities paired with their aggressive foreign and economic policies are clearly why Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin sees the Communist powerhouse as the United States’ pacing challenge.
The hypersonic test is just one part of a suite of security issues with respect to China. Kirby said DOD leaders are concerned about the trajectory of where things are going in the Indo-Pacific region. This suite “taken together [is a] reason for concern and [is] being used to inform the operational concepts that we want to be able to employ.”
The Pentagon press secretary said China’s actions are factored into deliberations on the global posture review and will be factored into the National Security Strategy and National Defense Strategy next year.
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