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China tests hypersonic weapon, US JCS chairman confirms

US Army General Mark Milley, the chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), confirmed on 27 October that China has tested a new hypersonic weapon system, describing the test launch as a “very concerning” and “very significant” development.

In an interview for ‘The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations' on Bloomberg Television, Gen Milley said, “What we saw, and I don't want to get too much into the classification, … was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system, and it is very concerning.

“I think I saw in some of the newspapers that they used the term ‘Sputnik moment'. 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.”

The general provided no further details but noted that the system is only the latest of China's military capabilities, which are rapidly expanding not only in the traditional domains of land, sea, and air, but also in space and cyberspace.

“They [the Chinese] have gone from a peasant-based infantry army that was very large in 1979 to a very capable military that covers all the domains and has global ambitions,” said the JCS chairman, adding, “China is very significantly on our horizon”.

Milley's remarks are the Pentagon's first official acknowledgement of China's hypersonic test, which was first reported by the Financial Times newspaper on 16 October. According to the paper, China tested a nuclear-capable, hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.

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