For a different perspective on the Chinese hypersonic missile . . . .
The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One
October 18, 2021
The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One
On Saturday the Financial Times published a sensational piece on alleged
Chinese testing of a new weapon system:
China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile
Launch in August of nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe took
US intelligence by surprise
China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that
circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an
advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.
Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military
launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew
through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.
The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according
to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test
showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and
was far more advanced than US officials realised.
The test has raised new questions about why the US often
underestimated China’s military modernisation.
“We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person.
That fourth person must be part of the U.S. 'intelligence' community
which is know for its lack thereof. Or some know nothing political editor:
Blake Hounshell @blakehounshell 10:00 PM · Oct 16, 2021
Incredible. This has all the elements of a Sputnik moment:
Demetri Sevastopulo @Dimi · Oct 16
SCOOP – #China has stunned US intelligence and military
officials by testing a #nuclear capable #hypersonic missile that
traveled through low orbit in space, making a full circle around the
globe before speeding towards its target.
What the FT describes is a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System which
the USSR once developed but never deployed in larger numbers:
The Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) was a
nuclear-weapons delivery system developed in the 1960s by the Soviet
Union. One of the first Soviet efforts to use space to deliver weapons,
FOBS envisioned launching nuclear warheads into low Earth orbit before
bringing them down on their targets.
Like a kinetic bombardment system but with nuclear weapons, FOBS
had several attractive qualities: it had no range limit, its flight path
would not reveal the target location, and warheads could be directed to
North America over the South Pole, evading detection by NORAD's
north-facing early warning systems.
The reason for developing FOBS was the U.S. deployment of anti ballistic
missile systems (ABM) that threatened to take out Soviet
Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Missile defense would allow the
U.S. to launch a first strike onto the USSR as it could theoretically
destroy a responding wave of retaliatory Soviet missiles.
In 1972 the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty was signed. It restricted U.S.
and Soviet missile defense systems to one on each side. That solved the
problem of a first strike capability and made the Soviet FOBS unnecessary.
In June 2002 the GW Bush administration withdrew from the ABM treaty.
(One of its members, the lying former Secretary of State Collin Powell,
has died today, unfortunately not in an Iraqi prison.)
The U.S. has since deployed missile defense systems. While these are of
dubious quality all its potential enemies, Russia, North Korea and
China, have since reacted by developing new weapon delivery systems
which can circumvent U.S. missile defenses.
The development of a Chinese FOBS should therefore not astonish anyone -
if it indeed has happened.
China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson today denied that the reported
flight was of a nuclear capable system:
Bloomberg: The Financial Times has reported that China tested a
nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. Could the foreign ministry confirmed
if China has such a missile?
Zhao Lijian: As we understand, this was a routine test of space
vehicle to verify technology of spacecraft's reusability. It is of great
significance to reducing the cost of using space vehicle and providing a
convenient and cheap way for mankind's two-way transportation in the
peaceful use of space. Several companies around the world have conducted
After separating from the space vehicle before its return, the
supporting devices will burn up when it's falling in the atmosphere and
the debris will fall into the high seas. China will work with other
countries in the world for the peaceful use of space for the benefit of
AFP: Is the missile you mentioned the same missile reported by the
Zhao Lijian: As I just said, it's not missile, but a space vehicle.
Bloomberg: I'm going to follow on the routine test of the space
vehicle. And could you confirm when the test happened and what kind of
space vehicles it was?
Zhao Lijian: As I understand, it was in July. This is a test of
space vehicle to verify the technology of spacecraft's reusability.
Reuters: The Financial Times reported that it's hypersonic missile.
Are you saying that the missile mentioned in the report should be a
Zhao Lijian: Yes.
It is not assured that the FT report and the Chinese account are of the
same system. But back in July China had indeed tested a reusable spacecraft:
The state-run China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation,
or CASC, released a statement earlier today stating that it had
successfully carried out the first suborbital test of a reusable space
vehicle that can land in a similar fashion to a traditional plane.
Details about the test and the spaceplane itself are limited, but CASC
has been publicly working on such technologies, ostensibly for
commercial use, for years now and had previously said it expected to
carry out such a flight test last year.
The space plane system China is developing would be launched by a
traditional missile and, like the former U.S. Space Shuttle, glide back
to earth. When reentering the atmosphere the space plane would reach,
like the space shuttle, speeds beyond Mach 5 and could therefore be
While such a system could have a military mission its large size means
that it would be a waste to use it for the delivery of nuclear war heads.
It might of course be that whoever briefed the officials who talked to
the Financial Times has exaggerated the Chinese intent and its capabilities.
Such talks of 'missile gaps' and of purported super weapons an adversary
allegedly has is useful when one wants Congress to cough up more money
for weapons development.
The FT report may well have been part of such a campaign.
Posted by b on October 18, 2021 at 15:41 UTC | Permalink
China's biggest problem is how to keep a straight face while falling
over themselves laughing. If it really was a FOBS they can issue bland
denials until the cows come home and watch western "intelligence" and
its presstitutes go into paroxysms of xenophobia and paranoia. If it
really was a space plane test, they can blandly assert it was a space
plane test with the same result. Win-win for China.
Posted by: pasha | Oct 18 2021 15:59 utc | 1
thanks b.... you are very masterful at breaking apart the information
given in the msm! to the point one has to ask a lot more questions of
the motives.. i agree with your hypothesis - more money for weapon
developments in the usa... that is of course a given! people's party to
the rescue, lol - not!
wonder where gordog disappeared to??
Posted by: james | Oct 18 2021 16:01 utc | 2
This will result in massive fund raising effort for the US military. The
whole thing sounds like a wet dream for MIC in USofA. "We have to keep
up with an imaginary foe." That can go on for a long time.
I did LOL at China's response, but realize what is going on here. Fund
Posted by: horatio | Oct 18 2021 16:02 utc | 3
@ pasha... until such time as the msm is not completely full of shite or
beholden to the intel agencies, it is also a win win for these same 24/7
bullshit artists too.. there might be some truth out their, but one
would be hard pressed to know what it is reading the western media..
Posted by: james | Oct 18 2021 16:03 utc | 4
Following up on the entertainment (comedic) value of this news item:
This dude has linked it to Hillary Clinton.
Posted by: Maracatu | Oct 18 2021 16:04 utc | 5
b's conclusion is spot-on.
Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 18 2021 16:15 utc | 6
I'm sure a lot of the world hoped it was weapons system, anything to
blunt US military adventurism. Mineshaft gap did sadly seem more likely.
Posted by: RZ | Oct 18 2021 16:20 utc | 7
Empire is throwing all of its eggs into the China is Hitler basket. But
what choice does Empire have? China must be assimilated for the 'plan'
to work. One People/One World. China's militarism, oppression,
aggression and strangulation of Empire's grift, creates 'our' next
'enemy' to cover for the reckoning of the off-shoring of entire
economies for the sole sake of profit.
It's the folks in the USA who are about to be strangled for an
irresponsible and immoral consumer economy of narcissistic locusts.
Posted by: gottlieb | Oct 18 2021 16:29 utc | 8
Just a slight aside: The space plane that China tested in July landed on
a regular runway. It did not miss that runway by dozens of miles but
instead landed properly and in perfect condition. The space plane that
was tested was a scaled down version of a larger space plane that is to
be tested some time later. The test model that landed in July, if it
were to be put into production, would only have room for something like
six passengers, so it is relatively small. The full-sized version is
supposed to be airliner-sized.
This recent test was preceded by a test of a glide-back booster back in
2019. While the recent test plane did ride into orbit on a regular
launcher, the plane is intended to be one component of a two part
system: Space plane and glide-back booster. This system is intended to
be fully reusable. Considering the success of the tests to date we are
likely to see, or at least hear about, tests of the complete system
Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 16:37 utc | 9
Unfortunately, it seems not to be a hypersonic missile. Unless it is top
secret, I don't see any reason for the Chinese to lie about this.
But I hope I'm wrong and the FT report is correct.
Posted by: vk | Oct 18 2021 16:54 utc | 10
Thanks Pasha, for this comment
pasha | Oct 18 2021 15:59 utc | 1
"China's biggest problem is how to keep a straight face while falling
over themselves laughing."
So true, so true! But not that they can't overcome this "problem" if
there are even more fun to be expected:
In 1974 or 1965 some of us Scaninavians (and Finns) at Peking Uni
(Bê'Dà) went wisiting a fellow Finn at Nánkāi U in Tiānjīn. Returning to
that campus, one German doctor of Sinology approached on hi bycycle,
slipped in the mud and got dirty all over. A Chinese crowd wathed the
episode and no-one laughed. Then he remounted his mount and started
treading. But hat not checked whether the bike was in order: The chain
was broken and he once again splashed into the mud. THEN came the gross
roar of lauphter.
Der Herr Doktor became a professsor in Chinese mentality Studies and in
Chinese Naval Strategy (blue-collar sea navy, not brown. Coincidence? --
Posted by: Tollef Ås/秋涛乐/טלפ וש | Oct 18 2021 16:58 utc | 11
By the way, China has issued an extraofficial warning to the USA:
US should stop eyeing too much on China’s hypersonic missiles and
broaden its horizons: Global Times editorial
The US is very concerned about China's nuclear development. There
is no doubt that China has no plans to build a nuclear force of the same
size as that of the US. In other words, we have no intention of
launching a "nuclear arms race" with the US. However, China will
certainly improve the quality of its nuclear deterrence to ensure that
the US completely eliminates the idea of nuclear blackmail against China
at any critical moment and its idea of using nuclear forces to make up
for the weakness that US' conventional forces cannot crush China.
That is, even though China doesn't have the hypersonic missile, the
American people should not feed itself the illusion it will not be
extinct by a Chinese nuclear counterattack. The USA will become a
radioactive wasteland and all of its prized stallions (i.e. the members
of the American capitalist class) will die, with or without hypersonic
Posted by: vk | Oct 18 2021 16:59 utc | 12
Now we have a competition between State Capitalism and Private
Capitalism. Which system will now prevail? With the USSR State
Capitalism failed beacuse of the total emphasis in the wasteful
military. China is way different and is ahead.
Posted by: Viktor K | Oct 18 2021 17:21 utc | 13
The Chinese have had a hypersonic glide vehicle for years: The DF-ZF.
This has been deployed and is active. The range and whether it goes into
orbit as part of its mission profile is dependent upon the booster it is
launched on. Whether what the Financial Times is working itself into a
lather over was actually a missile test or a reusable spacecraft test
seems to be beside the point. The Chinese certainly have already
demonstrated HGV capability so why is this supposed missile test causing
such an uproar?
Someone may have mixed up the test in July with a more recent test, but
why would the Chinese lie about it? The HGV delivery system is intended
as a deterrence, and a secret deterrence cannot deter anything.
Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 17:30 utc | 14
Thanks b. Martanyanov states that currently there is a joint naval
exercise in the sea of Japan where Russia and China are testing both
offensive and defensive weapons systems. He thinks that the integration
of both countries militaries may have reached an advanced stage of alliance.
Posted by: Michael Crockett | Oct 18 2021 18:12 utc | 15
So "hypersonic" is the new buzzword, how cool. We have a "hypersonic
gap". Our patriotic national defense industries will get right on it
(for a small fee).
To summarize, this story seems to be marketing drivel. The question is
why bring it out now? It's got to be to drum up business for the MIC.
Anything in orbit is hypersonic, or would be if there were air up there,
so anything of size incoming from up there is hypersonic.
I suppose they mean maneuverable hypersonic, they can steer the
hypersonic, that is the difference. Two long words, so just call it
hypersonic. Who cares right?
So I think Gruff is probably right.
Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 18 2021 18:56 utc | 16
They are talking about a hypersonic delivery vehicle. It is very hard to
keep a vehicle going through thick atmosphere this fast from burning up
from the friction. Normal orbital vehicles slow down as they enter the
Posted by: Michael Weddington | Oct 18 2021 19:48 utc | 18
Whether this is real or not, since US withdrawal from the INF treaty in
2018-2019, there hasn't been any doubt about this weapons race.
The main technical challenge, AFAIK, is sending targeting commands to
the hypersonic projectile to make it good for anti-ship use, since
projectiles are effectively blinded by the plasma and shockwaves
when flying through air at these speeds. My understanding is that the
act of maneuvering at hypersonic speed is not a groundbreaking thing
now, and therefore getting within tens of km is already possible with
inertial navigation. I'd be happy to hear insights on this from others!
What is described in the news story seems to be already possible with
"standard" space / rocket / missile technology, of the kind China has
already demonstrated (IMO more impressively) with space program.
Posted by: ptb | Oct 18 2021 20:14 utc | 19
IMO, Tom Fowdy';s angle is correct:
"On the other hand, it’s worth bearing in mind that this story
originated as a leak from the US government, and it always has an agenda
to promote. Leaks that highlight the capabilities of enemies, with a
view to lobbying for more defence spending and funding, are an extremely
common tactic employed within domestic politics. Fear sells. Indeed, one
member of the RAND Corporation think tank called the missile development
China’s 'Sputnik moment.'" [My Emphasis]
Currently within the Outlaw US Empire there's a (perhaps contrived) big
battle going on over Biden's BBB policy proposal and the huge national
debt which has left the MIC out in the cold, a position it loathes as it
thinks it must be central to all budget planning. And given the very
limited minds within Congress, a little bit of FUD concerning China can
go a long way. And as someone mentioned, "hypersonic" is the current
fear-promotion buzzword. And we must recall that 90% of the Outlaw US
Empire's propaganda is aimed at the domestic audience. And a second
thing to remember: with the Empire, guns always come before butter.
Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 18 2021 20:22 utc | 20
The real tough thing about hypersonic glide vehicles is that they
generate a plasma field around themselves. This not only blocks but
absorbs EM radiation. On the one hand this makes a hypersonic vehicle
invisible to radar. On the other hand guidance systems on the vehicle
cannot "see" through the plasma to know where the vehicle is going. For
example, a vehicle shrouded in plasma will not be able to receive
GPS/BeiDou signals. The Chinese, and apparently the Russians as well,
have apparently found a way for the vehicle's navigation system to "see"
through the plasma in order to adjust the vehicle's course. In fact, the
Chinese hypersonic glide vehicles were first deployed as "carrier
killers" and required extremely fine terminal guidance. Aircraft
carriers move, and the hypersonic glide vehicle might be embedded in a
plasma cloud for many hundreds of miles. There is no way that the HGV
could hit an aircraft carrier unless it could somehow detect where the
carrier has moved to and update its course, so they have to be able to
"see" through the plasma. That right there is a super big deal.
Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 20:25 utc | 21
Tom_Q_Collins | Oct 18 2021 18:58 utc | 17
is there anything funnier than the surveillance state bitching that its
security cams come from China? oh no! the CCP are watching fat US asses
hove around Wal Mart. what will we do? what we will ever do????
the MIC has to create the event that justifies the budget. 9/11 was the
magic act to initiate the GWOT. Cold War 2 and WW3 require even superior
supervillains. Even if China now has a nuclear hypersonic missile,
anything like this can only ever mean the US needs more bombers, subs,
and of course the ADD/ADHD-, autistic- and LGBTQXYZ-friendly Space
Force. Service guarantees insulin!
Posted by: rjb1.5 | Oct 18 2021 20:38 utc | 22
We are going to need a bigger budget - h/t "Jaws"
when i 1st heard this, i was too overcome w/delight at the prospect of
listening to all the complaining and whining and blaming in the
US...until i realized that, whether this story is true or not doesn't
matter, as far as the budgeting goes. PR is all.
when i think of washington dc, i think of one thing, another classic
movie line: Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.
Posted by: rjb1.5 | Oct 18 2021 20:47 utc | 23
Just more stolen tech. China is incapable of original thought. X37B.
Posted by: yee haw | Oct 18 2021 21:21 utc | 24
>>Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 20:25 utc | 21<<
Loved this post Gruff, I was waiting to here ... 'quantum based
communications' (want to day radio but could you call such a thing a
radio?) The Gordon Changs would have a fit. We in the U.S. would now be
Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Oct 18 2021 21:21 utc | 25
I was referring to China having to use 'quantum based communications' to
get past the plasma bubble. At that point, we might as well be trying to
Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Oct 18 2021 21:23 utc | 26
Posted by: rjb1.5 | Oct 18 2021 20:38 utc | 22
According to The Atlant(a)ic(ist), these Chinese cameras are installed
at secret US Air Force bases and other strategic military installations
too, but many different companies bought them wholesale from the Chinese
company and re-branded them, so finding them and removing them has been
extra difficult. LMAO, the Yankees no doubt hired a specialty contractor
at taxpayer expense to carry out this operation.
Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | Oct 18 2021 21:53 utc | 27
The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to
three people briefed on the intelligence
If the reusable space vehicle landed as traditional planes do, should
these leaks not from 'not-so-intelligence" sources?
I notice the story seems to have disappeared from MSM pages this morning.
Posted by: Menz | Oct 18 2021 22:15 utc | 28
I think karlof1 captured the sentiment with the Guns versus Butter meme
This definitely reads like a guns before butter marketing
scheme.....hypersonic everything will be the new buzzword before the end
of the year...prepare for hypersonic war with China......OOOOGAAAA
BOOOOOGGAAAA and all that FEAR stuff.
I hope the Covid BIG LIE blows up soon so that The Great Unraveling can
begin to put an end to the global private finance designed shit show we
are living in the West.
Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 18 2021 22:34 utc | 29
how does a plasma shrouded missile without access to GPS reposition
itself in relation to moving target such as a carrier? for that matter,
how does it monitor its environment if it cannot receive signals in
return? mind blown. I don't even understand the principle behind this tech.
Posted by: mastameta | Oct 18 2021 22:58 utc | 30
This duck has no wings
FT claims China put something in orbit, that did not stay there very
long. FT is not telling us when this supposed test happened. If the
device had been in orbit, then it would have been picked up by tens of
satellite tracking stations. Even worse, it could have alerted the US
early warning system.
First they said it was a "missile". Then they said it was carried by a
normal space launch vehicle. Now it looks like the thing never reached
orbit. I suspect the whole FT story is a canard.
Posted by: Petri Krohn | Oct 18 2021 23:26 utc | 31
For quantum positioning you will need two independent blobs the glider
can receive. So you can find out position and even information. Actually
best would be six for orbital coordinates. quantum entanglement could be
a useful tool. Mankind will become now hypersonic monkeys.
Posted by: rico rose | Oct 18 2021 23:49 utc | 32
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aliens. Subsection 1324(a)(1)(i)-(v) prohibits alien smuggling, domestic
transportation of unauthorized aliens, concealing or harboring
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abetting any of the preceding acts. Subsection 1324(a)(2) prohibits
bringing or attempting to bring unauthorized aliens to the United States
in any manner whatsoever, even at a designated port of entry. Subsection
Build Back Better means Destroy More Quickly.
"We have put together, I think, the most extensive and inclusive voter
fraud organization in the history of American politics." -Joe Biden