In a first, China has successfully tested three types of scaled-down hypersonic aircraft models in one go whose speed will be adjustable for a precision strike towards an unstoppable nuclear-capable weapon, the state media reported on Sunday.
Tests of the three scaled-down models of the "wide-speed-range vehicles", which can fly at from hypersonic velocity to lower than the speed of sound, were carried out on 21 September at the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Centre in northwest China, the state broadcaster CCTV reported.
In the news footage, three models representing differently shaped designs, code named D18-1S, D18-2S and D18-3S were lifted and then dropped from a balloon.
Another media report said that the speed of the hypersonic aircraft will be adjustable.
This was China's first test of this type of hypersonic aircraft whose speed will be adjustable for a precision strike towards an unstoppable nuclear-capable weapon, the Hong Kong based South China Morning Post reported.
Last month, Chinese scientists conducted their first experimental flight of a hypersonic glider named Starry Sky 2 that was launched by rocket and then flew on its own shock wave at Mach 6 (six times the speed of sound, or 7,344km/h).
Once fully developed, its sheer speed would be capable of penetrating any anti-missile defence system currently available, the report said.
"Their technologies can be inter-complementary. They can be combined together and make a hypersonic missile," Hong Kong-based military commentator Song Zhongping told the Post. Researchers measured the respective aerodynamic features of three different design shapes, and recorded their processes of falling, accelerating, breaking the sonic barrier, aerodynamic rebound, parachute opening, landing and retrieving, while collecting data, the CCTV report said.
It was to compare and choose from the three designs, said Song, adding that there will be further wind tunnel tests with larger or real-size models before finalising the aerodynamic configuration of the vehicle.
China, whose defence budget this year amounted to USD 175 billion, is investing heavily in defence research and development to catch-up with the US, Russia and the European Union.
China has been testing hypersonic glide vehicles since 2014. The United States and Russia have been carrying out similar experiments.
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