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China Tested A Nuclear-Capable Hypersonic Glide Vehicle

China Tested A Nuclear-Capable Hypersonic Glide Vehicle:

It has been reported that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.

  • Several countries, including the US, Russia and China, are developing hypersonic missiles which travel at a speed five times that of sound.
  • Though slower than ballistic missiles, they are harder to intercept and can be manoeuvred.
  • Hypersonic technology developments, in the backdrop of growing US-China rivalry and a year-long standoff with Indian forces in eastern Ladakh, is certainly a threat for India’s space assets along with the surface assets.
  • The offence system operating at these speeds would mean a requirement to develop defence systems at these speeds.

Hypersonic Speed and Technology:

  • Hypersonic speeds are 5 or more times the Mach or speed of sound.
  • It describes an aircraft’s speed compared with the speed of sound in air, with Mach 1 equating to the speed of sound i.e. 343 metre per second.
  • Hypersonic cruise missiles: These are the ones that use rocket or jet propellant through their flight and are regarded as being just faster versions of existing cruise missiles.
  • Hypersonic Glide Vehicle (HGV): These missiles first go up into the atmosphere on a conventional rocket before being launched towards their target
  • Technology Used: Most hypersonic vehicles primarily use the scramjet technology, which is a type of Air Breathing propulsion System.
  • This is extremely complex technology, which also needs to be able to handle high temperatures, making the hypersonic systems extremely costly.