A top United States military general revealed new information on China’s globe-circling hypersonic weapons test in August that stunned U.S. officials, according to an exclusive interview with CBS News on Tuesday.
General John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CBS that China “launched a long-range missile” that “went around the world, dropped off a hypersonic glide vehicle that glided all the way back to China, that impacted a target in China.
When asked if the missile hit the target, Hyten responded, “Close enough.”
During China’s test in August, the missile had circled the earth in low-orbit space and sped down to its target, though it landed some two-dozen miles away from its intended target.
Noting the surprising test and hundreds of new missile silos that the communist nation is building, Hyten said he believes China could eventually have the ability to launch a surprise nuclear attack on the United States homeland.
“They look like a first-use weapon,” Hyten said. “That’s what those weapons look like to me.”
Hyten said that while the U.S. is developing its own hypersonic weapons, China is moving much quicker. According to Hyten, over the last five years, China has executed hundreds of hypersonic tests, whereas the U.S. has carried out just nine.
Additionally, China has deployed a medium-range hypersonic weapon, while the U.S. is still several years from launching its first, Hyten said.
During an interview on Bloomberg Television last month, Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, compared China’s global hypersonic test to the Sputnik satellite, which was launched by Moscow in 1957 and made the Soviet Union the first nation to reach space, catching the U.S. off guard.
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Gen. Milley said in an interview for The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations. “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.”
When asked if he agreed that China’s hypersonic missile test is similar to Sputnik, Hyten replied that “from a technology perspective, it’s pretty impressive. . . But Sputnik created a sense of urgency in the United States. . . The test on July 27 did not create that sense of urgency. I think it probably should create a sense of urgency.”