China recently claims to have developed a sophisticated missile interceptor system that can stop incoming projectiles flying at hypersonic speeds.
People’s Liberation Army’s top defense contractor China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp. announced in a recent report that it has made a “new-generation aerospace defense missile” through its Second Academy in Beijing. It is worth noting that the PLA sources its air defense systems mainly from the CASIC Second Academy.
According to China Daily, the missile manufacturer explained that the system utilizes “top space technologies” and pointed out that the United States and Russia are among the very few nations that have been able to produce the weapon.
The anti-missile weapon is reportedly able to intercept a projectile “tens of kilometers” above the ground going “10 times faster than a bullet”, claimed the State-owned defense firm earlier this month.
As the article did not fully specify the capabilities of the defense weapon, but experts have interpreted the descriptions “tens of kilometers” and “10 times faster than a bullet” to the system having an operational range of 10 km to 100 km (6-62 miles) with a minimum velocity of around 12,000 km/h (7,456 mph). For context, the average speed of a bullet is 2,500 feet per second (around 1,700 mph), meaning the Chinese defense weapon can supposedly fire at a speed of 17,000 miles per hour. According to a 1994 article from the New York Times, the highest velocity a projectile ever achieved on Earth was 10 miles per second, or about 36,000 miles per hour.
The article also noted how, during a test, one of the prototypes exploded, highlighting the difficulty the designers overcame in the development process.
Aerospace Knowledge editor-in-chief Wang Ya’nan pointed out that such an advanced system requires “cutting-edge technologies, superb manufacturing techniques and top materials,” adding that only after a series of multiple tests would it find success.
CASIC, which was established back in 1956, is under the direct administration of China’s central government. The firm, currently the main contractor for the Chinese space program, also has multiple sub-entities which develop a myriad of ground equipment, spacecraft, launch vehicles, strategic and tactical missile systems.