China’s WU-14 hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) can travel up to 10 times the speed of sound and can strike any target around the globe within just an hour, reports the Beijing-based Sina Military Network.
The new HGV is one of the five futuristic weapons that can change the shape of modern warfare, according to US military analyst J Michael Cole in an article written for the Washington-based National Interest magazine.
In an age where minutes can make a difference between and victory, Cole said that conventional cruise missiles are too slow. It took about 80 minutes for land attack cruise missiles from US ships in the Arabian Sea to reach Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan back in 1998, Cole said.
Hypersonic missiles, on the other hand, cruise at an average five times the speed of sound and the same target can be reached within only 12 minutes, according to Cole. The United States has thus devoted a lot of time and energy to develop this next-generation weapons system, with China following hot on its heels.
At six times the speed of sound, the Sina Military Network said that America’s SR-72 hypersonic aircraft developed by Lockheed Martin can be modified as a hypersonic warhead with the sensor aboard an unmanned aerial vehicle.
Cole said that various countries including Russia, China and India are also developing their own hypersonic warheads to counter the United States. China has already tested its own HGV on Jan. 9, 2014. The new weapons system has been dubbed the WU-14 by Howard McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, while its speed is seen as a significant threat to the US.
“While round after round of defense cuts have knocked America’s technological advantage on its back, the Chinese and other competitor nations push towards military parity with the United States; in some cases, as in this one, they appear to be leaping ahead of us,” the Washington Free Beacon cited McKeon as saying.
A number of American analysts claim that the WU-14 may bring instability to the Asia-Pacific region, the Sina Military Network reported, adding that it is only China’s response to US hypersonic weapons such as the X-51A and SR-72.