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China tested ‘nuclear-capable’ hypersonic missile in August: Report

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
An illustration showing a Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle

China reportedly tested a “nuclear-capable” hypersonic missile in August that travelled around the Earth at a low orbit before reaching its target.

The Financial Times made the allegation in a report on Saturday, citing “multiple sources familiar with the test.”

The hypersonic vehicle was carried by “a Long March rocket,” the paper claimed and said Beijing did not announce the launch back at the time, when it actually took place.

It also claimed that three sources had alleged that the projectile had either fallen short of or overshot its target by 32 kilometres (20 miles).

China's progress on hypersonic weapons "caught US intelligence by surprise," the FT report read.

China, the United States, and Russia are the main countries working on the technology, which features development or projectiles that can travel five times faster than the speed of sound.

This is not the first time, when Beijing is reported to have carried out such a test.

Back in 2016, the US Department of Defense said China had successfully flight-tested a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) which was capable of carrying nuclear warheads at ultra-high speeds.

Earlier this year, the Pentagon asked for a $715-billion budget, saying it was geared to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region by shedding older weapons systems and investing in new technologies.

The budget proposal was released in May with the US Air Force asking to retire more than 200 aircraft and a plan to fund an operational hypersonic cruise missile for the first time. It requested $200 million for the Hypersonic Attack Cruise Missile alone.

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