China continues to advance its military and space programs with a test of their DN-3 long-range missile interceptor.
The purpose of the DN-3 is to destroy target missiles in space. China completed a successful test of the system on Feb. 5 with the DN-3 missile hitting and destroying its intended target.
This launch was at least the second time China has put a system with this capability to use since 2010.
The 2010 test, likely a similar missile to China’s current DN-3 from earlier this month, destroyed a target high in the exoatmosphere, about 62 miles above the surface of the earth. That test made China just the second nation on earth after the United States to develop and launch hit-to-kill defense missiles capable of destroying targets in the exoatmospere.
The United States tested a system with similar capabilities, named the SM-3, earlier last month, although that launch missed its intended target. The U.S. program has been in development for decades.
Exoatmospheric ballistic missile defense (BMD) is the most difficult of all missile defense mission sets. It requires the launch of a hypersonic missile interceptor to shoot down another hypersonic missile in space.
The hit-to-kill operation is technically demanding and requires the missile to precisely smash into an oncoming warhead in order to destroy it on impact before it reaches its intended target. Hitting high-velocity targets in the vacuum of space is just one of the many new defense tactics currently in development.
China’s most recent successful test of this system not only highlights the nation’s continued focus on its military and space programs, but also piqued the interest of other nations due to the timing of the launch.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are particularly high, with North Korea launching various rockets over the last few years and defying nations’ request to cut back on their nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
The United States also recently published its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review that outlined the Defense Department’s concerns over the ongoing nuclear arms race spanning Russia, China and North Korea. It also released new information on previously unknown military developments from Russia.
China’s increased interest in its military and nuclear program showcase the renewed completion between nations in the development of high-tech, high-speed weapons like rail guns, hypersonic glide vehicles and scramjet engines.
With China, North Korea and other nation focusing heavily on their military technology, President Donald Trump has also expressed his desire to improve America’s s nuclear programs and plans on increasing the Pentagon’s defense budget substantially by 2019.