Defense chief warns China over hypersonic missile program


Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had a sharp warning for China on Thursday, saying Beijing’s hypersonic weapons program is ratcheting up tensions in Asia.

“We have concerns about the military capabilities that the PRC continues to pursue, and the pursuit of those capabilities increases tensions in the region,” Austin said while visiting South Korea, using an abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China.

The Pentagon chief added that the US will “continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and to our allies,” according to the Associated Press.

Hypersonic weapons can travel at low altitudes, evading detection while being easily maneuvered to better reach their target. China claims the missiles could be a blow to US “strategic superiority.”

arms, asia, china, Department of Defense, military, missiles, national security, north korea, secretary of defense, south korea

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin during a media briefing at the Pentagon on Nov. 17. His latest comments on China’s military developments came during a visit to South Korea.

AP

The US is apparently working on its own hypersonic weapons, as is Russia, whose navy conducted a test earlier this week. Some experts have warned the missiles are meant to outsmart American detection systems, while others have cautioned that rapid global production by major superpowers will lead to a new arms race.

arms, asia, china, Department of Defense, military, missiles, national security, north korea, secretary of defense, south korea

Chinese hypersonic ballistic missiles during a military parade in 2019. These weapons can travel a low altitudes, evading detection while being better maneuvered to reach their target.

AP

Gen. John Hyten, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in October that nuclear-capable hypersonic missiles could soon give China the upper hand “if we don’t do something to change it.”

arms, asia, china, Department of Defense, military, missiles, national security, north korea, secretary of defense, south korea

Chinese officials claim that the sophisticated missiles, pictured above, could upset the U.S.’s ‘strategic superiority.’

EPA

“What you need to be worried about is that in the last five years, or maybe longer, the United States has done nine hypersonic missile tests, and in the same time the Chinese have done hundreds,” Hyten added.

Austin also said Thursday that the US and South Korea have updated their contingency plans for a potential war on the Korean Peninsula in light of the perceived growth of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal.

With Post wires

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