US has said that China’s pursuit of hypersonic weapons “increases tensions in the region” and vowed the U.S. would maintain its capability to deter potential threats posed by China.
- China’s growing military muscle and its drive to end American predominance in Asia has triggered unease in Washington.
- China’s efforts to accelerate its military capabilities were highlighted by its July test of a hypersonic weapon capable of partially orbiting the Earth before reentering the atmosphere and gliding on a maneuverable path to its target.
- Experts say the weapons system is clearly designed with a purpose of evading U.S. missile defences, although China insisted it was testing a reusable space vehicle, not a missile.
- Hypersonic speeds are 5 or more times the speed of sound
- The weapon could, in theory, fly over the South Pole. That would pose a big challenge for the US military because its missile defence systems are focused on the northern polar route.
- India is especially concerned with the latest developments considering relations with China in the recent past. Such capabilities highlight the threat for our space assets along with the surface assets.
- The exact details on technology used by China in this particular test are not known through media sources. But most of the hypersonic vehicles primarily use the scramjet technology.
- Scramjets are a category of engines designed to handle airflows of speeds in multiples of the speed of sound.
- In an air-breathing scramjet engine, air from the atmosphere is rammed into the engine’s combustion chamber at a supersonic speed of more than Mach two.
- In the chamber, the air mixes with the fuel to ignite a supersonic combustion but the cruiser’s flight will be at a hypersonic speed of Mach six to seven.
- So it is called supersonic combustion ramjet or Scramjet.