Better than sharks with frickin laser beams – TTG

The FT’s sources said the hypersonic glide vehicle was carried by a Long March rocket, launches of which China usually announces, though the August test was kept under wraps [Stringer/ AFP]

China’s new hypersonic missile demonstrated an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise, report says

Alia Shoaib, Sunday, October 17, 2021, 7:39 AM

  • In August, China tested a hypersonic missile that orbited the Earth before speeding towards its target.
  • The test demonstrated China’s advanced space capability, and took US intelligence officials by surprise.
  • The US, Russia and China have been competing to develop hypersonic weapons.

China demonstrated advanced space capability by testing a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August, the Financial Times reported, citing five sources familiar with the test. The hypersonic glide vehicle launched by the Chinese military circled the globe in low-orbit space before speeding towards its target, sources told the paper.

Although the missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, the test demonstrated China’s advanced space capability and took US intelligence by surprise, sources told the Financial Times. The test showed that China had made “astounding progress” on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realized, two sources said, according to the paper.

“We have no idea how they did this,” another source told the paper.

Comment: Looks like USSPACECOM and the Space Force have something else to worry about. Wouldn’t these orbiting Chinese hypersonic missiles be directly weaponizing space in a bold, new, movie villain kind of way? As my old mentor, MSG Al Rivers, often told me, “the shit’s on good buddy.”


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44 Responses to Better than sharks with frickin laser beams – TTG

  1. Pat Lang says:

    So, this baby comes in from orbit hypersonic? Sounds like an aircraft carrier killer.

    • TTG says:

      Yes. Gives another meaning to death from above. Although we do have anti-hypersonic cruise missile capability, now tracking and early warning will be even more important.

      • jim ticehurst says:

        Other Factors have to be Considered..ASAT capabilitys..Who hAS MORE Response and Recovery Capability..Mass Inventorys..Conventional..and Nuclear..In All Branches…GPS destroyers..As Pat stated…Carrier and Submarine Systems..Destroyed..Disabled…And As For Regional..?? Bllomberg and many Foreign Policy Articles and Analysis…Indicate The INTENT is Clear..>Regional Now..Global Later..For Obvious Strategic Reasons..

        • jim ticehurst says:

          Also..I have been wondering…with Our Current NON Track Record…and Intel Failures…Bpodys Everywhere..and The Only Spooks left are in the White House..Zombies Actually…Just How Many More”Aw Scheise…”Surprises we are going to have next…Like Oh..Hey…IRAN Does have the Bomb…and a Hundred Silos..and a Underground railroad to Korea and China…Maybe we will Find out just before we get The BEEPs on TV…and This is a Message from the Emergency Broadcast System..”.Hello Americans..Bend Over..You Dont have any Shelters to Go to..and We are recalling All our Ships Now..We Need the Supplys…So..Dont Bother to Turn out The Lights…We Will Do it For You…” Beep Beep Beep..

  2. Deap says:

    Mutually Assured Deterrence redux – 21st Century style MAD-ness.

    Our college freshman class motto was “Stay Alive Til ’65”.

    That was in 1961, just four years hence at the time. Such were the daily anxieties of this Cold War generation. And since we did stay alive and we respected MAD, I always felt this was our generation’s best gift to humanity.

    • jim ticehurst says:

      Deap…Im same generation..There are benefits of Having a 1940s and 1950s…Foundation..I was able to form my Own Opinions…on Civil Matters in the 60s…and Know What Culture Revolution Front Groups Grew out of the Cali..Front Grounps…. Oh..The Poster I remember Most…was “WE Are The Generation Our Parents Warned Us About..” So..What Now…Ah…Progressive ..MAD…International..A Living Matrix.. Ah So…Yes The Chinese…Well Probably Have Access to ALL The R@D ..and Military and Industrial Data and Specs in The World..Some Help from “Friends”..and Engineers..Bingo…Space Stations..Time Travel..Super Weapons…About As Bizzare as the 1930s and 1940s in Europe..I rmember reading something Once..That Stuck with My Perceptions and Thinking…”Something Wicked This Way…Comes..”

  3. KK says:

    Sorry, I don’t think there is much new, something that the USA or the USSR could not do before.

    Check this:

    This was done by the USSR (and USA certainly has/had the same capability) in 1960’s.

    ICBM’s never reach the orbital escape velocity (4.88 miles per second). Not because they cannot in principle, but because you can deliver bigger payload to target if they don’t. Which is why the USSR or the USA never adopted it. Not because they could not. It just was not worth it.

    Supposedly the Chinese missile orbited the Earth. So it reached the orbital escape velocity, 4.88 miles/sec, which is mach 23. A missile is considered supersonic if its speed > mach 5. This “oh my god, it is supersonic” is ridiculous. Once you get warhead to orbit, it is mach 23. Once it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere, it is even faster.

    • TTG says:

      This missile launched to orbit by a standard Long March rocket, orbited the Earth and THEN went into it s hypersonic cruise missile phase towards its target. It was not just an orbiting ballistic missile.

      • KK says:

        I am sorry, I am still not impressed. Putting a vehicle/warhead into space (into orbit) is not a problem. USA/USSR(Russia) have been able to do that reliably for 60+ years. Once a vehicle/warhead is in orbit, speed is not a problem; you got plenty of speed (mach 23+). Guidance/targeting and maneuverability is a problem. Especially once you re-enter the Earths atmosphere. The re-entry vehicle heats up, plasma forms around it, blocking all EM signals, e.g. no GPS signals for you.

        Chinese have basically caught up to what USA/USSR(Russia) could do in 1960’s, 1970’s. Call me unimpressed.

    • Christian J. Chuba says:

      Great link KK. Conceptually it’s similar but I wouldn’t say ‘it’s no big deal, it’s old technology being re-cycled’. The Yangle design, while impressive was not a hypersonic glide vehicle, it had thruster rockets limiting its accuracy. It was abandoned because the Russians decided they got more bang for the buck with SLBM’s (just summarizing the article).

      The question remains, do the Chinese intend for this to be a strategic nuclear weapon? If so then the accuracy is very close to being good enough. Since their current arsenal has limited range, I tend to think that this is the case. To be a tactical weapon to hit carriers we will see more tests in the future focusing on accuracy.

  4. KK says:

    Also, the Chinese missile missed the target by 24 miles. If you are trying to hit the NYC or the greater DC area, missing by 24 miles might still be ok, in terms of doing lots of damage. Missing a target in the middle of Pacific by 24 miles means the missile is worthless, unless it has a (thermo)nuclear warhead. If it has a conventional warhead, it may scare a businessinsider’s 20+ year old journalist, recently out of college, with a liberal arts degree, but sailors on board of navy warships in the middle of Pacific will be laughing at this missile.

    • TTG says:

      So what. Musk had several rockets blow up before he got as far as he is now. That’s how development works.

      • KK says:

        Sure, there is a learning curve. Elon Musk is a world-class salesman. As far as rocket technology is concerned, I don’t think there is anything fundamentally new (in what he is doing) that USA/USSR(Russia) did not know or could not do 40 years ago. But China is learning fast and catching up fast.

        • TTG says:

          Neither the US or the USSR/Russia could field hypersonic cruise missiles 40 years ago. And China beat us both to firing them from orbit. That capability, even in the development phase, did catch us by surprise. But you are right when you say China is learning and catching up fast.

    • Yeah, Right says:

      It would imagine that terminal-guidance to the target is what they will look at on the next test flight, now that they have been able to tick off “low earth orbit” and “successful re-entry into atmosphere” from the current list.

      Indeed, this test flight may have used dead-reckoning from the moment it re-entered atmosphere, in which case 24 miles would be pretty impressive.

      All such testing is a step-by-step process. But the really important thing here is how far down the check-list the Chinese have managed to go so far, whereas the US still hasn’t started.

  5. jerseycityjoan says:

    I have been getting more and more concerned about China this year. Are we going to finally get serious as a country about the unfortunate aggressive stance they are showing?

    Are we (the First World) going to stop teaching their engineering and science students and allowing their rich to buy up real estate and get permanent residency and citizenship? Are we going to stop buying so many of their products and figure out ways to avoid Chinese products in the future, particularly electronics?

    We should be rethinking a lot of things but business relationships and immigration policy should be top priorities. They finance a lot of our deficit, I think. We should think about that vulnerability, too.

    • TTG says:

      We should be doing all those things. Too bad we won’t give up our cheap(er) Chinese goods or invest in producing our own and pay to buy those US produced goods. It’s up to US consumers to change their habits. Our universities won’t give up those foreign students whose governments pay full tuition.

      All the advances made by the Chinese military are aimed at regional dominance. If we were ever satisfied with only regional dominance, we’d avoid 95% of our friction with China.

      • jerseycityjoan says:

        I see what you are saying about the colleges and products but we do not have to leave these things as a matter of choice.

        I was thinking earlier this year about still having the Chinese students in our science and engineering programs and all the other business as usual things and I thought “what would the people of the WWII era have thought of that?” And of course (leaving the prejudices of the time out of it) they could never believe we could be that stupid and when I think about it, I cannot believe it either.

        I don’t want another arms race or a new Cold War or worse but the Chinese have their own thoughts and are acting on them. If they are becoming aggressors our response cannot be to just pretend it is not happening.

        As for regional dominance, do you think we will contemplate leaving the Pacific? For one thing, that would mean leaving that North Korea free to do what it wants. I do not know what the Chinese Communist Party really wants or to what extent the people agree. The Party is taking steps to become Big Brother when we thought with a lot more prosperity would come more freedoms.

        We have a real China problem and the public is basically clueless. That will have to change, fast. Where is the leadership we need in politics and business and academia?

        • Barbara Ann says:


          “The Party is taking steps to become Big Brother when we thought with a lot more prosperity would come more freedoms”

          The first half of that sentence could be describing the Democrats, though for that to work the second half would need to be rearranged to read “..we thought with a lot less freedom would come more prosperity”.

          Rather than freeing the inner American inside every Chinese, we currently have a US government trying to emulate the Chinese Big Brother/planned economy model. In the process it seems very likely they will destroy the very engine of prosperity that made America great and thus impoverish the whole population.

          Also, re your previous comment, given there was a discussion on this blog recently about the feasibility of a successful first strike on China, do you imagine that Chinese blog commentators do not write “Are we going to finally get serious as a country about the unfortunate aggressive stance they are showing?”?

          • jerseycityjoan says:

            I see a very clear difference between the Democrats and the Chinese Communist Party. No one can argue that parts of the party have taken several big steps to the left and are obsessed with identity politics and Wokeness but not all the Democrats have followed them. I am a Democrat and I am not calling for the end of capitalism or for a Big Brother government and I am not Woke.

            In a democracy we have more than one party. That there is disagreement is natural and necessary. In this era of contention and bad feelings, I am happy to say my faith in America is as strong as ever, as is my love for all Americans. I still feel very glad and lucky to be an American even though I am more aware and ashamed of our failures and shortcomings than I once was.

            As far as ordinary mainland Chinese people writing about us on the internet, well, who knows what they would say if they had all the facts, a free press and internet and freedom of speech like we do? But they are not free. As things are, they risk arrest and worse for criticizing the government.

        • TTG says:

          “Where is the leadership we need in politics and business and academia?”

          Our business leaders are single-mindedly in pursuit of profits, nothing else. Consumers are in pursuit of more and more cheap goods and those business leaders are happy to indulge our perceived needs and wants. Leaders in academia want that money from foreign tuition and endowment funding. Our farmers, big and small, lobby to send more food and feed to China to feed their growth. That’s not “America First,” it’s profits first. Our political leaders are pandering to our burning desire for profits and more and more cheap stuff.

          I don’t know if any leaders will arise, a movement will form or some catastrophic event will occur to challenge our widespread and deep seated devotion to profit and more and more stuff.

          • jerseycityjoan says:

            I hope we can do better than you describe. We need to do better.

            By the way, after all I have said I never asked you the million dollar question: What are your thoughts about this launch and China’s true progress being such a surprise?

            This is obviously a big problem as well.

          • TTG says:


            I know we can do better, but I’m not sure what can spur us to do so. I grew up under the words of JFK’s 1961 Inaugural Address. “Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country.” Those words were emblazoned in one foot tall letters in the atrium of the Algonquin grammar school. My teachers inoculated us with those words in everything they said and did. It really was a Camelot, and, like Camelot, the Algonquin School no longer exists. But I believe we can and must return to that call.

            To answer your million dollar question, I know China has hypersonic weapons. Their DF-17 medium range ballistic missile has a DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle capable of mach 5 to 10 speeds, extreme maneuverability and a high degree of accuracy. Perhaps China put something similar to the DF-ZF atop their Long March rocket to get it to orbit. That’s just a further development of a concept any decent aeronautical engineer could come up with. I would hope we have analysts within our IC with similar imaginations and we were not as surprised as the FT article leads us to think we were.

      • Fred says:

        “It’s up to US consumers to change their habits. ”

        Yes, all that outsourcing was forced upon patriotic businesses by the consumer. It’s not like some tweeting bastard was going to raise tariffs such as we used to have before the ‘consumers’ forced China into the WTO and NAFTA down the throats of manufacturers.

        “Our universities won’t give up those foreign students…”
        They will if we stop issuing visas to all those foreigners.

        On a bright note now that our great victory in Afghanistan is but a memory we have a new reason for massive defense spending. Just in time, too.

        • TTG says:

          Perhaps an American version of sakoku would do the trick. But it will take big government and an oppressive one at that to reign in big business, mass consumers and the neocon internationalists.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Nah. Not big govt. Small govt and removed regulations, taxes and other government imposed restrictions. The free market will do the rest via start-up competition.

            Big Government will never accomplish anything worthwhile or beneficial to the typical American.

          • Fred says:


            That’s a rather simplistic take on things.

          • TTG says:

            Yes, Fred, American sakoku is far too simplistic and it will never be implemented given our deep seated addiction to Chinese goods and investments.

            Eric, all small government and the removal of regulations and restrictions will do is give a free hand to big business to extract profit from where ever they can in any way they can. They are the true internationalists. We could really use a trust busting Teddy Roosevelt type.

          • Eric Newhill says:

            Concur on the trust busting. But we don’t have a Teddy Roosevelt on deck. As it is, the whores in the swamp are aiding and abetting big business for $s in their G-strings.

            I thought Trump was doing a *relatively* good job of allowing competition and Americanization into the market. That’s one reason They really hated him, IMO.

            At any rate, government isn’t the answer at this point, unless the 2022 and 2024 elections are fair enough to allow honest representatives of the people to be elected; people who are willing to step back and let go. That’s what the people want.

            Let’s go Brandon.

      • Datil D says:

        “If we were ever satisfied with only regional dominance, we’d avoid 95% of our friction with China”

        Wouldn’t that require taking a chunk out of that massive MIC budget

        • TTG says:

          A return to a regional national strategy rather than our present global strategy wouldn’t require a reduction in the MIC budget, but it would be extremely hard to justify the current budget.

  6. Barbara Ann says:


    Well a miss of 24 miles at least confirms that the Russians are sharing their HGV technology with the Chinese yet. Avangard has been in active deployment since December 2019.

  7. jim ticehurst says:

    Other Factors have to be Considered..ASAT capabilitys..Who hAS MORE Response and Recovery Capability..Mass Inventorys..Conventional..and Nuclear..In All Branches…GPS destroyers..As Pat stated…Carrier and Submarine Systems..Destroyed..Disabled…And As For Regional..?? Bllomberg and many Foreign Policy Articles and Analysis…Indicate The INTENT is Clear..>Regional Now..Global Later..For Obvious Strategic Reasons..

  8. Jose says:

    Warning to Taiwan and the U.S. Navy…just focus on kicking out SEALS who refuse to get the jab.. Who are going to call?

    Where are our intelligence agencies that missed this event?

    CRT training?

    Coming to terms with their whiteness?

    Plotting against the Trump Restoration 2024?

  9. ex-PFC Chuck says:

    The USA is f***ed unless and until it gets its financial sector back under control. Having escaped the restraints put in place during the 1930s they have created a financial environment that compels corporations to forgo investments in productive resources that have long-term payoffs and instead focus on financial gimmicks that maximize revenues for the current quarter. Another result has been the proliferation of the private equity mutation of capitalism. Joseph Schumpeter characterized capitalism as “creative destruction.” The creation was intentional and the destruction simply an unintended consequence. For the private equity barons, however, the destruction is intentional and there’s no collateral creation whatsoever. What’s left are just empty buildings, looted balance sheets and bankruptcies and empty buildings as soon as the economy burps again.

  10. zmajcek says:

    Militarization of space seems to proceed at an accelerated pace.
    How long before missile launching platforms become a reality ?
    Platforms filled with missiles of various capabilities, coated with radar and light absorbing materials.

  11. Yeah, Right says:

    I really think the important thing here is that this defeats all the assumptions that are built into the USA’s current ABM systems. Which makes Shrub’s decision to withdraw from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty a poor decision.

    One positive, I suppose: rather than attempting to overwhelm the USA’s ABM complex in Alaska by the brute-force option of increasing the number of ICBMs they can fire through it, the Chinese have decided to go around it by playing peek-a-boo over the South Pole.

    If nothing else, that allows the CCP to keep a cap on the number of ICBMs they need to deploy to achieve deterrence. Which in my opinion is a good thing, not a bad thing.

  12. fredw says:

    China has denied a report that claimed it had recently launched a hypersonic missile, saying its launch of a new spacecraft was merely a test to see whether the vehicle could be reused.

    • Christian J. Chuba says:

      Since China has an active space program and this would be an incredible leap in missile technology, that’s a plausible explanation. I don’t know and apparently, neither do our Intel agencies.

  13. jerseycityjoan says:

    I was stunned to see this at the Daily Mail. What in the world possessed Jen Psaki to say such a thing?

    “‘We’ve made clear we are concerned about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue & we’ve been consistent…We welcome stiff competition, but we do not want that competition to veer into conflict.'”

    The last thing I want is an arms race. This is not business and capitalism where competition is viewed as good. Intense competition among nations over arms leads to spending money that could be better spent other places and possibly conflicts that otherwise would not have happened.

    Yes there is the example of Reagan heating up the arms race to help topple the USSR in the 80s but that is clearly not going to happen here.

    • TTG says:

      I think that’s just a restating of how we now define our relationships with China, Russia and maybe a few others – strategic competition as opposed to cooperation with allies. It replaces cold war and whatever other terms we may have used in the past. It’s now used in our national defense strategy.

      • jerseycityjoan says:

        Thanks for the explanation. I’d say that for China right now, that is soft pedaling the situation.

        Let us see how long we remain “strategic competitors.” Did you notice earlier this year the way China was talking about Australia? Those two are far more equal trading partners than we are. I seemed to me that everything China was saying to Australia including the nasty tone was meant for us, too.

        It will be interesting to see as time goes on if the world starts blaming China for Covid and what happens as the third world countries who took out project loans from China can’t make their payments. The Chinese leadership wants more power and domination. How will they react to lots more hostility, isolation and resentment, especially if they and their families can’t run away to the first world to escape the mess they created?

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