Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
October 18, 2021

The New Chinese Wonder Weapon Which Likely Isn't One

On Saturday the Financial Times published a sensational piece on alleged Chinese testing of a new weapon system:

China tests new space capability with hypersonic missile
Launch in August of nuclear-capable rocket that circled the globe took US intelligence by surprise

China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile in August that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise.

Five people familiar with the test said the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low-orbit space before cruising down towards its target.

The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence. But two said the test showed that China had made astounding progress on hypersonic weapons and was far more advanced than US officials realised.

The test has raised new questions about why the US often underestimated China’s military modernisation.

“We have no idea how they did this,” said a fourth person.

That fourth person must be part of the U.S. 'intelligence' community which is know for its lack thereof. Or some know nothing political editor:

Blake Hounshell @blakehounshell 10:00 PM · Oct 16, 2021
Incredible. This has all the elements of a Sputnik moment:
Demetri Sevastopulo @Dimi · Oct 16
SCOOP – #China has stunned US intelligence and military officials by testing a #nuclear capable #hypersonic missile that traveled through low orbit in space, making a full circle around the globe before speeding towards its target.

What the FT describes is a Fractional Orbital Bombardment System which the USSR once developed but never deployed in larger numbers:

The Fractional Orbital Bombardment System (FOBS) was a nuclear-weapons delivery system developed in the 1960s by the Soviet Union. One of the first Soviet efforts to use space to deliver weapons, FOBS envisioned launching nuclear warheads into low Earth orbit before bringing them down on their targets.

Like a kinetic bombardment system but with nuclear weapons, FOBS had several attractive qualities: it had no range limit, its flight path would not reveal the target location, and warheads could be directed to North America over the South Pole, evading detection by NORAD's north-facing early warning systems.


The reason for developing FOBS was the U.S. deployment of anti ballistic missile systems (ABM) that threatened to take out Soviet Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles. Missile defense would allow the U.S. to launch a first strike onto the USSR as it could theoretically destroy a responding wave of retaliatory Soviet missiles.

In 1972 the Anti-Ballistic Missile treaty was signed. It restricted U.S. and Soviet missile defense systems to one on each side. That solved the problem of a first strike capability and made the Soviet FOBS unnecessary.

In June 2002 the GW Bush administration withdrew from the ABM treaty. (One of its members, the lying former Secretary of State Collin Powell, has died today, unfortunately not in an Iraqi prison.)

The U.S. has since deployed missile defense systems. While these are of dubious quality all its potential enemies, Russia, North Korea and China, have since reacted by developing new weapon delivery systems which can circumvent U.S. missile defenses.

The development of a Chinese FOBS should therefore not astonish anyone - if it indeed has happened.

China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson today denied that the reported flight was of a nuclear capable system:

Bloomberg: The Financial Times has reported that China tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. Could the foreign ministry confirmed if China has such a missile?

Zhao Lijian: As we understand, this was a routine test of space vehicle to verify technology of spacecraft's reusability. It is of great significance to reducing the cost of using space vehicle and providing a convenient and cheap way for mankind's two-way transportation in the peaceful use of space. Several companies around the world have conducted similar tests.

After separating from the space vehicle before its return, the supporting devices will burn up when it's falling in the atmosphere and the debris will fall into the high seas. China will work with other countries in the world for the peaceful use of space for the benefit of mankind.

AFP: Is the missile you mentioned the same missile reported by the Financial Times?

Zhao Lijian: As I just said, it's not missile, but a space vehicle.
Bloomberg: I'm going to follow on the routine test of the space vehicle. And could you confirm when the test happened and what kind of space vehicles it was?

Zhao Lijian: As I understand, it was in July. This is a test of space vehicle to verify the technology of spacecraft's reusability.

Reuters: The Financial Times reported that it's hypersonic missile. Are you saying that the missile mentioned in the report should be a space vehicle?

Zhao Lijian: Yes.

It is not assured that the FT report and the Chinese account are of the same system. But back in July China had indeed tested a reusable spacecraft:

The state-run China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, or CASC, released a statement earlier today stating that it had successfully carried out the first suborbital test of a reusable space vehicle that can land in a similar fashion to a traditional plane. Details about the test and the spaceplane itself are limited, but CASC has been publicly working on such technologies, ostensibly for commercial use, for years now and had previously said it expected to carry out such a flight test last year.


The space plane system China is developing would be launched by a traditional missile and, like the former U.S. Space Shuttle, glide back to earth. When reentering the atmosphere the space plane would reach, like the space shuttle, speeds beyond Mach 5 and could therefore be called hypersonic.

While such a system could have a military mission its large size means that it would be a waste to use it for the delivery of nuclear war heads.

It might of course be that whoever briefed the officials who talked to the Financial Times has exaggerated the Chinese intent and its capabilities.

Such talks of 'missile gaps' and of purported super weapons an adversary allegedly has is useful when one wants Congress to cough up more money for weapons development.

The FT report may well have been part of such a campaign.

Posted by b on October 18, 2021 at 15:41 UTC | Permalink


China's biggest problem is how to keep a straight face while falling over themselves laughing. If it really was a FOBS they can issue bland denials until the cows come home and watch western "intelligence" and its presstitutes go into paroxysms of xenophobia and paranoia. If it really was a space plane test, they can blandly assert it was a space plane test with the same result. Win-win for China.

Posted by: pasha | Oct 18 2021 15:59 utc | 1

thanks b.... you are very masterful at breaking apart the information given in the msm! to the point one has to ask a lot more questions of the motives.. i agree with your hypothesis - more money for weapon developments in the usa... that is of course a given! people's party to the rescue, lol - not!

wonder where gordog disappeared to??

Posted by: james | Oct 18 2021 16:01 utc | 2

This will result in massive fund raising effort for the US military. The whole thing sounds like a wet dream for MIC in USofA. "We have to keep up with an imaginary foe." That can go on for a long time.
I did LOL at China's response, but realize what is going on here. Fund raising....

Posted by: horatio | Oct 18 2021 16:02 utc | 3

@ pasha... until such time as the msm is not completely full of shite or beholden to the intel agencies, it is also a win win for these same 24/7 bullshit artists too.. there might be some truth out their, but one would be hard pressed to know what it is reading the western media..

Posted by: james | Oct 18 2021 16:03 utc | 4

Following up on the entertainment (comedic) value of this news item: This dude has linked it to Hillary Clinton.

Posted by: Maracatu | Oct 18 2021 16:04 utc | 5

b's conclusion is spot-on.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 18 2021 16:15 utc | 6

I'm sure a lot of the world hoped it was weapons system, anything to blunt US military adventurism. Mineshaft gap did sadly seem more likely.

Posted by: RZ | Oct 18 2021 16:20 utc | 7

good coverage.

Empire is throwing all of its eggs into the China is Hitler basket. But what choice does Empire have? China must be assimilated for the 'plan' to work. One People/One World. China's militarism, oppression, aggression and strangulation of Empire's grift, creates 'our' next 'enemy' to cover for the reckoning of the off-shoring of entire economies for the sole sake of profit.

It's the folks in the USA who are about to be strangled for an irresponsible and immoral consumer economy of narcissistic locusts.

Posted by: gottlieb | Oct 18 2021 16:29 utc | 8

Just a slight aside: The space plane that China tested in July landed on a regular runway. It did not miss that runway by dozens of miles but instead landed properly and in perfect condition. The space plane that was tested was a scaled down version of a larger space plane that is to be tested some time later. The test model that landed in July, if it were to be put into production, would only have room for something like six passengers, so it is relatively small. The full-sized version is supposed to be airliner-sized.

This recent test was preceded by a test of a glide-back booster back in 2019. While the recent test plane did ride into orbit on a regular launcher, the plane is intended to be one component of a two part system: Space plane and glide-back booster. This system is intended to be fully reusable. Considering the success of the tests to date we are likely to see, or at least hear about, tests of the complete system fairly soon.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 16:37 utc | 9

Unfortunately, it seems not to be a hypersonic missile. Unless it is top secret, I don't see any reason for the Chinese to lie about this.

But I hope I'm wrong and the FT report is correct.

Posted by: vk | Oct 18 2021 16:54 utc | 10

Thanks Pasha, for this comment

pasha | Oct 18 2021 15:59 utc | 1

"China's biggest problem is how to keep a straight face while falling over themselves laughing."

So true, so true! But not that they can't overcome this "problem" if there are even more fun to be expected:

In 1974 or 1965 some of us Scaninavians (and Finns) at Peking Uni (Bê'Dà) went wisiting a fellow Finn at Nánkāi U in Tiānjīn. Returning to that campus, one German doctor of Sinology approached on hi bycycle, slipped in the mud and got dirty all over. A Chinese crowd wathed the episode and no-one laughed. Then he remounted his mount and started treading. But hat not checked whether the bike was in order: The chain was broken and he once again splashed into the mud. THEN came the gross roar of lauphter.
Der Herr Doktor became a professsor in Chinese mentality Studies and in Chinese Naval Strategy (blue-collar sea navy, not brown. Coincidence? -- maybe naught.

Posted by: Tollef Ås/秋涛乐/טלפ וש | Oct 18 2021 16:58 utc | 11

By the way, China has issued an extraofficial warning to the USA:

US should stop eyeing too much on China’s hypersonic missiles and broaden its horizons: Global Times editorial

The US is very concerned about China's nuclear development. There is no doubt that China has no plans to build a nuclear force of the same size as that of the US. In other words, we have no intention of launching a "nuclear arms race" with the US. However, China will certainly improve the quality of its nuclear deterrence to ensure that the US completely eliminates the idea of nuclear blackmail against China at any critical moment and its idea of using nuclear forces to make up for the weakness that US' conventional forces cannot crush China.

That is, even though China doesn't have the hypersonic missile, the American people should not feed itself the illusion it will not be extinct by a Chinese nuclear counterattack. The USA will become a radioactive wasteland and all of its prized stallions (i.e. the members of the American capitalist class) will die, with or without hypersonic weapons.

Posted by: vk | Oct 18 2021 16:59 utc | 12

Now we have a competition between State Capitalism and Private Capitalism. Which system will now prevail? With the USSR State Capitalism failed beacuse of the total emphasis in the wasteful military. China is way different and is ahead.

Posted by: Viktor K | Oct 18 2021 17:21 utc | 13

The Chinese have had a hypersonic glide vehicle for years: The DF-ZF. This has been deployed and is active. The range and whether it goes into orbit as part of its mission profile is dependent upon the booster it is launched on. Whether what the Financial Times is working itself into a lather over was actually a missile test or a reusable spacecraft test seems to be beside the point. The Chinese certainly have already demonstrated HGV capability so why is this supposed missile test causing such an uproar?

Someone may have mixed up the test in July with a more recent test, but why would the Chinese lie about it? The HGV delivery system is intended as a deterrence, and a secret deterrence cannot deter anything.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 17:30 utc | 14

Thanks b. Martanyanov states that currently there is a joint naval exercise in the sea of Japan where Russia and China are testing both offensive and defensive weapons systems. He thinks that the integration of both countries militaries may have reached an advanced stage of alliance.

Posted by: Michael Crockett | Oct 18 2021 18:12 utc | 15

So "hypersonic" is the new buzzword, how cool. We have a "hypersonic gap". Our patriotic national defense industries will get right on it (for a small fee).

To summarize, this story seems to be marketing drivel. The question is why bring it out now? It's got to be to drum up business for the MIC.

Anything in orbit is hypersonic, or would be if there were air up there, so anything of size incoming from up there is hypersonic.

I suppose they mean maneuverable hypersonic, they can steer the hypersonic, that is the difference. Two long words, so just call it hypersonic. Who cares right?

So I think Gruff is probably right.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 18 2021 18:56 utc | 16

LOL @ the USA military and "intelligence" establishment. Even funnier still; the evil Chinese will be watching directly via CCTV as Uncle Scam develops his own hypersonic missiles:

Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | Oct 18 2021 18:58 utc | 17

They are talking about a hypersonic delivery vehicle. It is very hard to keep a vehicle going through thick atmosphere this fast from burning up from the friction. Normal orbital vehicles slow down as they enter the atmosphere.

Posted by: Michael Weddington | Oct 18 2021 19:48 utc | 18

Whether this is real or not, since US withdrawal from the INF treaty in 2018-2019, there hasn't been any doubt about this weapons race.

The main technical challenge, AFAIK, is sending targeting commands to the hypersonic projectile to make it good for anti-ship use, since projectiles are effectively blinded by the plasma and shockwaves
when flying through air at these speeds. My understanding is that the act of maneuvering at hypersonic speed is not a groundbreaking thing now, and therefore getting within tens of km is already possible with inertial navigation. I'd be happy to hear insights on this from others!

What is described in the news story seems to be already possible with "standard" space / rocket / missile technology, of the kind China has already demonstrated (IMO more impressively) with space program.

Posted by: ptb | Oct 18 2021 20:14 utc | 19

IMO, Tom Fowdy';s angle is correct:

"On the other hand, it’s worth bearing in mind that this story originated as a leak from the US government, and it always has an agenda to promote. Leaks that highlight the capabilities of enemies, with a view to lobbying for more defence spending and funding, are an extremely common tactic employed within domestic politics. Fear sells. Indeed, one member of the RAND Corporation think tank called the missile development China’s 'Sputnik moment.'" [My Emphasis]

Currently within the Outlaw US Empire there's a (perhaps contrived) big battle going on over Biden's BBB policy proposal and the huge national debt which has left the MIC out in the cold, a position it loathes as it thinks it must be central to all budget planning. And given the very limited minds within Congress, a little bit of FUD concerning China can go a long way. And as someone mentioned, "hypersonic" is the current
fear-promotion buzzword. And we must recall that 90% of the Outlaw US Empire's propaganda is aimed at the domestic audience. And a second thing to remember: with the Empire, guns always come before butter.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 18 2021 20:22 utc | 20

The real tough thing about hypersonic glide vehicles is that they generate a plasma field around themselves. This not only blocks but absorbs EM radiation. On the one hand this makes a hypersonic vehicle invisible to radar. On the other hand guidance systems on the vehicle cannot "see" through the plasma to know where the vehicle is going. For example, a vehicle shrouded in plasma will not be able to receive GPS/BeiDou signals. The Chinese, and apparently the Russians as well, have apparently found a way for the vehicle's navigation system to "see" through the plasma in order to adjust the vehicle's course. In fact, the Chinese hypersonic glide vehicles were first deployed as "carrier killers" and required extremely fine terminal guidance. Aircraft carriers move, and the hypersonic glide vehicle might be embedded in a plasma cloud for many hundreds of miles. There is no way that the HGV could hit an aircraft carrier unless it could somehow detect where the carrier has moved to and update its course, so they have to be able to "see" through the plasma. That right there is a super big deal.

Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 20:25 utc | 21

Tom_Q_Collins | Oct 18 2021 18:58 utc | 17
is there anything funnier than the surveillance state bitching that its security cams come from China? oh no! the CCP are watching fat US asses hove around Wal Mart. what will we do? what we will ever do????
the MIC has to create the event that justifies the budget. 9/11 was the magic act to initiate the GWOT. Cold War 2 and WW3 require even superior supervillains. Even if China now has a nuclear hypersonic missile, anything like this can only ever mean the US needs more bombers, subs, and of course the ADD/ADHD-, autistic- and LGBTQXYZ-friendly Space Force. Service guarantees insulin!

Posted by: rjb1.5 | Oct 18 2021 20:38 utc | 22

We are going to need a bigger budget - h/t "Jaws"

when i 1st heard this, i was too overcome w/delight at the prospect of listening to all the complaining and whining and blaming in the US...until i realized that, whether this story is true or not doesn't matter, as far as the budgeting goes. PR is all.

when i think of washington dc, i think of one thing, another classic movie line: Nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

Posted by: rjb1.5 | Oct 18 2021 20:47 utc | 23

Just more stolen tech. China is incapable of original thought. X37B.

Posted by: yee haw | Oct 18 2021 21:21 utc | 24

>>Posted by: William Gruff | Oct 18 2021 20:25 utc | 21<<

Loved this post Gruff, I was waiting to here ... 'quantum based communications' (want to day radio but could you call such a thing a radio?) The Gordon Changs would have a fit. We in the U.S. would now be cavemen.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Oct 18 2021 21:21 utc | 25

I was referring to China having to use 'quantum based communications' to get past the plasma bubble. At that point, we might as well be trying to fight extra-terrestrials.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Oct 18 2021 21:23 utc | 26

Posted by: rjb1.5 | Oct 18 2021 20:38 utc | 22

According to The Atlant(a)ic(ist), these Chinese cameras are installed at secret US Air Force bases and other strategic military installations too, but many different companies bought them wholesale from the Chinese company and re-branded them, so finding them and removing them has been extra difficult. LMAO, the Yankees no doubt hired a specialty contractor at taxpayer expense to carry out this operation.

Posted by: Tom_Q_Collins | Oct 18 2021 21:53 utc | 27

The missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles, according to three people briefed on the intelligence

If the reusable space vehicle landed as traditional planes do, should these leaks not from 'not-so-intelligence" sources?

I notice the story seems to have disappeared from MSM pages this morning.

Posted by: Menz | Oct 18 2021 22:15 utc | 28

I think karlof1 captured the sentiment with the Guns versus Butter meme

This definitely reads like a guns before butter marketing scheme.....hypersonic everything will be the new buzzword before the end of the year...prepare for hypersonic war with China......OOOOGAAAA BOOOOOGGAAAA and all that FEAR stuff.

I hope the Covid BIG LIE blows up soon so that The Great Unraveling can begin to put an end to the global private finance designed shit show we are living in the West.

Posted by: psychohistorian | Oct 18 2021 22:34 utc | 29

how does a plasma shrouded missile without access to GPS reposition itself in relation to moving target such as a carrier? for that matter, how does it monitor its environment if it cannot receive signals in return? mind blown. I don't even understand the principle behind this tech.

Posted by: mastameta | Oct 18 2021 22:58 utc | 30

This duck has no wings

FT claims China put something in orbit, that did not stay there very long. FT is not telling us when this supposed test happened. If the device had been in orbit, then it would have been picked up by tens of satellite tracking stations. Even worse, it could have alerted the US early warning system.

First they said it was a "missile". Then they said it was carried by a normal space launch vehicle. Now it looks like the thing never reached orbit. I suspect the whole FT story is a canard.

Posted by: Petri Krohn | Oct 18 2021 23:26 utc | 31

For quantum positioning you will need two independent blobs the glider can receive. So you can find out position and even information. Actually best would be six for orbital coordinates. quantum entanglement could be a useful tool. Mankind will become now hypersonic monkeys.

Posted by: rico rose | Oct 18 2021 23:49 utc | 32

The comm blackout due to ionization on re-entry was studied since the 60's and scientists proposed some possible solutions, that involve manipulating the plasma with magnetic fields, to change its refraction and reflection characteristics so that there become some range of frequencies in which the blackout effect is reduced enough that signals can pass through received. Looks like it's being actively studied in both US and China, handful of papers in the last few years.

The other probably simpler option is to "reduce" vehicle speed and have a "helper" satellite beam a strong signal directly at the object in question ... From a website describing the effect on the space shuttle, it looks like when speed is reduced below about 3000-3500 km/s (about Mach 10 at the high altitudes indicated), the shockwave temperature falls enough that useful comm can get through... presumably GHz range like Ka band, but website doesn't say).

Posted by: ptb | Oct 19 2021 0:26 utc | 33


Simpler solution: reduce vehicle speed to just below Mach 10 (around 30-50km altitude), and the high GHz like Ka band should be able to get through. At least according to this website.

More complex solution - manipulate the plasma from within the vehicle using magnetic fields to change its refraction/reflection characteristics for a window of frequencies, reducing the blackout effect. Studied since the space age, but also subject of more recent (like last 4 years) US and Chinese papers, describing experimentation closer to something practical.

Posted by: ptb | Oct 19 2021 0:31 utc | 34

"The USA will become a radioactive wasteland and all of its prized stallions (i.e. the members of the American capitalist class) will die, with or without hypersonic weapons."
vk | Oct 18 2021 16:59 utc | 12

Don't you worry. I hear they're buying shiny new bunkers to ride it out. Who says delusion has limits?

Posted by: David G Horsman | Oct 19 2021 1:20 utc | 35

@35 The only problem with shiny new bunkers is that they have to be self-sufficient. They also need security forces to keep the mob away. Can the security forces be trusted becomes the question.

Posted by: dh | Oct 19 2021 1:28 utc | 36

As some of you know I'm no fan of the regular dick waving of 'newer, bigger and better' weapons that empires inflict upon us in some sort of attempt to scare the natives into submission, but I did look at the link to an article on the X-37B which the graun included in their story on the alleged hypersonic missile.

At the time I wondered WTF are they doing, there is no purpose to a beat up like this if the sub editor is going to shoot it in the foot by claiming amerika already has one. That is no way to ensure that what little is left in the dems never to be passed bill is scooped up & away from childcare or prescription price controls then handed over to the good old boys and their DARPA chums is it?

Then I saw the one liner above where a bot appears to be claiming that the mighty X-37B is the bees knees and the chinamen have stolen the plans from amerika.
It seems like the DC types are more concerned about appearing to be portrayed as the incapable bumbling idjits they are than any concern about more $$$$'s cos let's face it the current vibe around the MIC is "ask & ye shall be given".

After the afghanistan bizzo where the military got caught doing the right thing so had to be portrayed as clumsy incompetents to distract from that, there is now great concern about having any of their copious mis-steps revealed.

Set aside the unlikelihood of a young empire on the way up, chocka full of new organisations a long way off being considered institutions, doing a worse job of building some new and cutting-edge equipment than a tired & worn-out empire whose institutions are chocka with careerists, corruption and 'do it by the book' for a moment.
Whatever these devices can be used for, it seems if it is amerika, it is solely for un-named 'experiments' but if China has one, then it is solely for delivering nuclear weaponry.

All we need to know is what we already knew. That is if a couple of the 'big boys' do get into a full on scrap there will be many millions of humans on both sides killed by handfuls of humans on the other side.

The greedies spent most of the last century de-educating the reality that the soldiers and their descendants had witnessed in WW1, that sufficient normal humans who have gotten up close to mass indoctrination for the greedies' cause can take the knowledge & skills (along with a burning rage at the injustices they saw) and turn it to their own ends. ie for the good of all the other normal humans.
Ever since then wars have been developed by requiring less to kill more and encouraging humanity to view war as a spectator sport rather than a participatory event.
No one nentions that should they be required to participate their intended role is as casualty.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 19 2021 3:20 utc | 37

@36 dh The story, apparently, is that the gazillionaires that actually run the US Empire have decided that New Zealand is the place to build their underground fortified bunkers-with-jaccuzis.

If true, then I would expect New Zealand to become increasingly strident regarding an independent and non-interventionist foreign policy.

After all, there is no point in those gazillionaires fleeing to NZ only to find that it also has giant bullseyes drawn on it.

Posted by: Yeah, Right | Oct 19 2021 3:31 utc | 38

China's hypersonic missiles are contaminating America's precious bodily fluids!

Posted by: Biswapriya Purkayast | Oct 19 2021 3:52 utc | 39

Trash piece on the Guardian:
They made the mistake of allowing comments. Best ones were deleted of course.

Posted by: Joe | Oct 19 2021 4:28 utc | 40

Honestly, I only wonder why it took so long. Russia has been running it's hypersonic missile desinformation campaigne for almost two decades now. After even North Korea had done it it was about time for the US "intelligence community" to jump on the bandwagon and come up with some hypersonic fairy tales on it's own, too.

Posted by: m | Oct 19 2021 4:31 utc | 41

The trajectory described in the FT article reminds me of the original 'hypersonic weapon' design, the Sänger-Bredt Silbervogel ('Silver Bird'), also known as the 'Amerika Bomber' or 'Antipodal Bomber'. Designed in Nazi Germany to strike targets in the US, the Silbervogel would be launched on a rocket-powered sled before igniting its rocket engine (an early design called for diesel fuel and liquid oxygen propellants!) to boost itself out of the atmosphere on a suborbital trajectory. As the bomber began to reenter the upper reaches of the atmosphere, its wings would begin to generate substantial lift, causing it to climb out of the atmosphere again. By repeating this maneuvere multiple times, the Silbervogel could 'skip' like a stone across the top of the atmosphere, resulting in an intercontinental range. PS ignore the cold war fairytale in the Wikipedia link about Stalin sending his son to kidnap Sänger, the Soviets already had Sänger's paper and you don't need yet another second rate Nazi scientist when you have Mstislav Keldysh, who quickly realised that Sänger had made an error when calculating the rentry heating the bomber would be subjected to during its 'skips', which turned out to be far more than 1930s-40s materials could withstand.

Von Braun's Wehrmacht boss Gen. Walter Dornberger never gave up on the Sibervogel's boost-glide concept and managed to use it to get Paperclipped into a lucrative job at Bell Aircraft after WW2, pitching designs called 'RoBo' or 'BoMi' (Rocket Bomber/Bomber Missile) under the 'Brass Bell' and 'HYWARDS' programs. Unfortunately for the General, Bell missed out on the contract to build the 'Dynasoar' (designed for 'dynamic soaring', basically a fancy name for the Sibervogel's 'skips'). Dynasoar looked like a mini space shuttle, designed to be launched on Titan II ICBM. Neil Armstrong was involved in this program between flying the X-15 and launching on his own Titan II during NASA's Gemini program. Armstrong inadvertently demostrated the Sibervogel's 'skip' maneuver during an high altitude X-15 flight in 1961 by holding the X-15's nose a tad too high and bouncing off the upper atmosphere. Dynasoar was canceled before its 1st flight but proved that materials science had caught up with Sänger's vision.

If the FT can be believed (a big 'if') the Chinese vehicle was launched on a Long March 2C, a derivative of the Dong Feng 5 ICBM. The DF-5 has roughly the same capabilities as the Titan II, so it would be a reasonable choice for a test of a hypersonic glide vehicle of intercontinental range (like the Russian Avangard). On the other hand it could be 'just' a FOBS, launching a warhead into orbit and using a retrorocket to brake it back out onto a ballistic trajectory, still an impressive achievement.

Posted by: S.P. Korolev | Oct 19 2021 5:38 utc | 42

"hypersonic is the current fear-promotion buzzword."


Hold my beer say the other fear promotion buzzwords, COVID, CLIMATE CHANGE, TERRORISTS, FAKE NEWS. Better print that fiat currency ever faster. They all want a slice of that transfer of wealth from the public to their private purses. Socalism for the rich feudalism for the rest.

Posted by: Tom | Oct 19 2021 5:51 utc | 43

"and encouraging humanity to view war as a spectator sport rather than a participatory event.
No one nentions that should they be required to participate their intended role is as casualty.

Posted by: Debsisdead | Oct 19 2021 3:20 utc | 37

Well, to the countries that are picked out to be thrown against a wall by the west it's more like reality TV with them as the participants, with BIG BIG consequences for getting "voted" off the island leaving their citizens asking, "why us"? Oil, Israel and hatred of the other ism's cover a lot of the "why".

Posted by: Tom | Oct 19 2021 6:16 utc | 44

Yeah, Right #38

After all, there is no point in those gazillionaires fleeing to NZ only to find that it also has giant bullseyes drawn on it.

They will be small bullseyes. Given the reported accuracy of the current generation of Russian missiles, and the simplicity of getting a street address or gps fix on a bloody obvious bunker construction in NZ there will be no hiding place from an extremely fast lump of iron let alone an explosive warhead.

What amuses me is that the USA ditched the space shuttle in exchange for Elon's Musk oil.


Now China appears to have developed Cshuttle V.II and USAstan is whining about it.

Posted by: uncle tungsten | Oct 19 2021 7:09 utc | 45

That is, even though China doesn't have the hypersonic missile, the American people should not feed itself the illusion it will not be extinct by a Chinese nuclear counterattack. The USA will become a radioactive wasteland and all of its prized stallions (i.e. the members of the American capitalist class) will die, with or without hypersonic weapons.

Posted by: vk | Oct 18 2021 16:59 utc | 12

But China already has hypersonic missile. It just it's not a FOBS and primarily used as anti-shipping weapon. Regardless, it is very easy for China to develop FOBS with their existing hypersonic technology and I doubt that they will hide it if they really develop and tested it. Why? Because China's strict no first use policy on their nuclear weapon. Their primary strategy is deterrence. Announcing and SHOWING it is part of that to make sure your enemy (US) does not want to 'fuck around and find out'.

Posted by: Hangar | Oct 19 2021 8:32 utc | 46

the American people should not feed itself the illusion it will not be extinct by a Chinese nuclear counterattack. The USA will become a radioactive wasteland and all of its prized stallions (i.e. the members of the American capitalist class) will die, with or without hypersonic weapons.
Posted by: vk | Oct 18 2021 16:59 utc | 12

In the event of an all-out war with China, rather than resort to nuclear weapons (given the relationship with Russia and the all-out superiority of Russia), the USA is far more likely to be planning to use biological weapons. Not a low mortality weapon like covid-19 but something highly deadly, such as a combination of ebola (lethality) with SarsCov2 (transmissability). It would be likely to be combined with ethnic-targetted constraints such that it would target Asian and Slav populations more efficiently than Caucasians. The US certainly has the capability to make such a hybrid and has probably already made it. Delivered by drone in the midst of all-out war, this would provide a very deadly incapacitating effect on the Chinese military and civilian war-effort. Of course, the US would then claim it was a biological warfare "accident" by the Chinese themselves, to provide a fig-leaf for their own offensive use.

Therefore both Russia and China, in my view, need to have a very explicit policy that even the tiniest use of biological weapons by the US during or immediately prior to all-out warfare should mandate an immediate joint Russia-China all-out nuclear strike against the USA, to provide an adequate deterrant against such use.

Why an all-out response even to the tiniest use? Because unlike nuclear weapons, one small use can self-escalate to a nationwide epidemic very quickly if transmission rates are very high, without any overt intermediate escalating event equivalent to subsequent nuclear missiles, and it is impossible to determine quickly from the first outbreak what the final transmission/lethality qualities will be.

Posted by: BM | Oct 19 2021 8:52 utc | 47

Posted by: BM | Oct 19 2021 8:52 utc | 47

Unlike the USA Russia and China have no desire to use biological weapons as a first-strike, therefore they need to be explicitly bound to MAD to provide a deterrant against the USA.

Posted by: BM | Oct 19 2021 8:55 utc | 48

I got my fix ... Shimkus and some Congressman on FOX said, 'we [the U.S.] innovates, China steals' (felt sooo good)

They are going with the, it was a hypersonic missile, angle. I just love how we in the U.S. just cannot believe that China is capable of innovation on their own without stealing from us. But how can China steal technology from the U.S. that we do not have?

I know, someone will chime in, 'we had a stick figure drawing in 1960's with the same idea'. Okay, but it takes a lot of innovation to go from an idea to actually building and testing something.

Posted by: Christian J. Chuba | Oct 19 2021 10:55 utc | 49

"Posted by: m | Oct 19 2021 4:31 utc | 41

m, I get a chuckle out of your posts. With all the gloom and doom some funny stuff is good.

Posted by: arby | Oct 19 2021 12:18 utc | 50

Posted by: BM | Oct 19 2021 8:52 utc | 47

Unlike the USA Russia and China have no desire to use biological weapons as a first-strike, therefore they need to be explicitly bound to MAD to provide a deterrant against the USA.

Posted by: BM | Oct 19 2021 8:55 utc | 48

Well, the thing is, as Uncle Sugar has so convincingly just demonstrated, using biological weapons is a stupid idea, they tend to blowback on you. And our health care system sucks here. If we had not been fooling around with Corona viruses in the first place we'd have been much better off here these last two years.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 19 2021 12:58 utc | 51

Today's Global Times editorial verifies my endorsement of Tom Fowdy's analysis, beginning and then concluding:

"The sense of crisis Washington has experienced recently is caused by hypersonic weapon technology because the current US missile defense system will not be able to deal with such a revolutionary technology. This means Washington's defense system may become useless. The US fears that the nuclear power pattern between major powers might change once China and Russia possess this new missile technology. So the US has been keeping a close eye on any Chinese move that might be related to the technology....

"In short, the US should stop exerting pressure on China and Russia. It needs to restructure its security concept and live in peace with China and Russia. As long as Washington does not incite or create strategic confrontation between major powers, the world will be peaceful." [My Emphasis]

How long have we here at this bar been saying essentially the same as the bolded phrase above? Perhaps even more important is the sentence that follows since it's the Outlaw US Empire's militaristic political-economy that MUST "incite or create strategic confrontation" or else its Merchants of Death and their financiers won't have the multi-billion dollar gravy train free lunch any longer. Unfortunately, I don't believe anyone of "substance" within the Outlaw US Empire has the balls to say any of that, although Tulsi Gabbard did come close.

Hey Biden!! If you need money to pay for your BBB policy proposal, I know where you can immediately attain $700 billion annually without increasing the debt one penny. Just gut the Imperial budget as no Regular Joes actually benefit from it.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 19 2021 15:18 utc | 52

RT's lead today echoes the GT editorial:

"Speaking on Tuesday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said Beijing firmly opposed the US continuously exaggerating the 'China threat theory.' He stated that Beijing’s only interest was self-defense, and claimed it would not engage in a nuclear arms race with any country.

"'China’s development of necessary military capabilities is entirely to safeguard its legitimate national security interests. The growth of China’s power is the growth of peaceful forces,' he said, adding that no country would have to fight Chinese forces if they did not threaten Beijing’s sovereignty.

"Wang claimed the recent hysteria over a Chinese hypersonic rocket launch was merely the US trying to find another excuse to expand its military power and seek an absolute security advantage.

"He said US officials were creating their own narrative through talking up Chinese technological advances while ignoring the fact that Washington has the world’s largest and most advanced nuclear arsenal and has to invest trillions of dollars to upgrade its nuclear triad – a reference to the US’ three methods of deploying nuclear weapons: from land, submarine and air." [My Emphasis]

Clearly, the Outlaw US Empire's Merchants of Death are addicted to the need for an adversary, a fact written about prior to 911 when one was suddenly provided as if by providence. Now that time has mostly erased that fabrication, another is clearly needed. Do note that Trump and Biden are singing the same tune when it comes to MAGA/BBB, but when it comes to actual implementation of such policy, it just can't be done, which is a familiar tune going back to Clinton and universal healthcare. Crooke was spot-on in noting the continuity of policy.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 19 2021 15:34 utc | 53

@ karlof 52
[The US] needs to restructure its security concept and live in peace with China and Russia.

Ain't gonna happen. The US security state is built upon worldwide military (including naval) control, in order to 'secure US interests' everywhere. That's primarily financial interests, which by the way importantly finance congressional careers in Washington. The huge budget funding of a half-million person ground force and large expenditures on air, space and naval forces aren't based upon any local threats from Canada and Mexico, but on fabricated threats from Russia, China, Iran, Korea, Venezuela and any other place which can be an excuse for increasing "defense" expenditures. The Pentagon is now focusing on 'military aid' to Africa now, among others. . .We have to live in the world as it is, not as we wish it to be.

Posted by: Don Bacon | Oct 19 2021 15:45 utc | 54

@ Posted by: BM | Oct 19 2021 8:52 utc | 47

This "biological weapons that only kills Asians and Slavs" is just a far-right wet dream. Even if such biological weapon could be built theoretically (which we still don't know, but it would have to be a virus), the fact is we're not even close to such technology.

The bioweapon narrative is just the neonazi version of the tactical nukes narrative of the neocons. It's pie in the sky.

Posted by: vk | Oct 19 2021 15:59 utc | 55

@ Bemildred | Oct 19 2021 12:58 utc | 51.. i concur.. it certainly looks like this was a man made thing that the world is still grappling with.. i would put that on all the bio weapon labs that get the support of numerous countries, but the usa has to be at the top of the list.. ban all biological weapons is the only solution but we see the unwillingness of countries to do this... it is very unfortunate..

Posted by: james | Oct 19 2021 16:09 utc | 56

Don Bacon @54--

Hi Don! Yes, I agree we must live in our reality, but we also need to know why that reality is as it is.

Looks like reality's about to hit Google for not obeying Russian laws:

"Russian media regulator Roskomnadzor said it would seek to fine American tech giant Google for repeatedly failing to remove content deemed illegal as soon as this week. The fine will amount to 5-20% of Google’s Russian turnover.

"The watchdog highlighted Google had failed to pay $458,100 (32.5 million rubles) in penalties levied earlier this year. The latest fine may be as much as $240 million, marking a significant increase from the previous penalty.

"Earlier this month, Roskomnadzor announced plans to ask a court to impose a turnover fine on social media firm Facebook, citing legislation signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in December 2020. Facebook was accused of allowing content glamorizing drug use, child pornography, and extremism."

Google's turnover is cited as "85.5 billion rubles ($1.2 billion)." I bet Google refuses to pay and gets itself kicked out of Russia until it pays its fines plus additional penalties.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 19 2021 16:20 utc | 57

Posted by: james | Oct 19 2021 16:09 utc | 56

I keep thinking of the Sorcerer's Apprentice when I think about our relationship with the natural world, fat, dumb, and happy. Billionaires who think they can build their own little fiefdom and "just ride it out" or build their own new civilization perhaps. The fatuousness of it. It's like my government picking this moment to pick a fight with China. The entire self-destructive course of our government since WWII beggars description, really.

So yeah, it's like that.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 19 2021 16:24 utc | 58

Regardless of whether the Chinese test was of a hypersonic missile, we should not lose sight of V. Putin's announcement two or three years ago that Russia was developing or had already developed exactly the sort of globe encircling missile described in the FT report. Since Putin tends to be a straight shooter, I would imagine that the technology already exists and will soon be deployed by Russia. Or was Putin simply blowing smoke?

Posted by: Rob | Oct 19 2021 16:28 utc | 59

How convenient. Putin laid it all out for a Western journalist just last week: Russia has Mach 20 ICBMs in place.

Posted by: Rob | Oct 19 2021 16:36 utc | 60

Some people that still believe they should be considered reporters while cherry picking or omitting troves of data is the real news.

Coming Into Focus: Hillary's Secretive, Russiagate-Flogging Pair of Super-Lawyers

House of Trump, House of Putin

Hidden History of Trump’s First Trip to Moscow

Posted by: Anon | Oct 19 2021 16:45 utc | 61

Posted by: Rob | Oct 19 2021 16:36 utc | 60

I watched that video a couple times now. I want to say he looks like he is having fun, and he kind of reminds me of N. Kruschev a bit.

"This isn't bad, we have a lot of areas just like this in the Soviet Union." -- Nikita Kruschev on a tour of Harlem at 7:00 AM 1959

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 19 2021 16:52 utc | 62

Rob @59--

As I recall, that missile was the one powered by a nuclear engine allowing it to remain aloft for many hours and enabling it to exploit the weakest gaps in the Outlaw US Empire's defenses. One huge difference between Russia and the Empire's core--Russia has its air and missile defenses already deployed and ready for action while the Empire has zip deployed and also has zip to use aside from its network of radars. Russia at least has a chance to shoot down opposing missiles at various points after their launch, while the Empire has no chance to shoot down anything as it completely lacks any form of defense. Oh sure, it will tout its patriot system that doesn't work and has zero chance of intercepting anything hypersonic. The imbalance is actually very curious ever since the proof was provided of the Empire's complete vulnerability.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 19 2021 17:22 utc | 63

Great video clip. I last remember Aus leadership on display like that in the 90's. Thanks.

Posted by: Dim sim | Oct 19 2021 19:54 utc | 64

Alexander Mercouris has done some recent fantastic analyses of the China/US situation. The latest is a very worthy alternative analysis to that of Moon of Alabama (i.e. Alexander concludes that the "China Hypersonic Vehicle" story is essentially true and that the US has a great deal to be concerned about):

Amidst US Alarm on China's Hypersonic Vehicle Test China Sidesteps Discussion, Provides No Denial (Alexander Mercouris)

Posted by: ADKC | Oct 19 2021 21:18 utc | 65

Whether China tested a hypersonic device or not, the news items had their intended consequences in Congress as we anticipated, "We Really Need a Wake-up Call":

"Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), slammed the Biden administration after China reportedly tested a hypersonic missile with nuclear capabilities, and warned the US of falling behind Chinese defense advancements....

"'We really need a wake-up call, this should be our Sputnik moment,' Gallagher insisted. 'But I hate to say it, Secretary Austin and the Biden administration are trying to cut defense. They're trying to cut our conventional capability.'

"'That's what their budget did, particularly for the Navy. That's unacceptable at a time when Communist China is growing more aggressive, more bellicose and out-innovating us in certain areas.'"

Why would a Congresscritter from Wisconsin be concerned about cuts to the Navy, as with those ships that are unable to perform the duties for which they were designed? The "Sputnik moment" phrase is direct from thinktankland. Like a bad egg, it didn't take long to run through the body.

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 20 2021 0:00 utc | 66

@ 60 rob.. thanks... great video as dim sum mentions as well.. the american interviewer is stunned and speechless!

Posted by: james | Oct 20 2021 5:26 utc | 67

the point about "missile gaps" reminds me a lot of this havana syndrome that seems to be all the rage...Also reminds me of "the ugly american" in the oldschool cold war..."our diplomats are so weak and flabby, while our enemy is so sharp and refined :( [so give us more money]"

Posted by: anon | Oct 20 2021 6:59 utc | 68

Posted by: karlof1 | Oct 20 2021 0:00 utc | 66

Why would a Congresscritter from Wisconsin be concerned about cuts to the Navy....

Perhaps this article about US navy shipbuilding in his home district explains:

Posted by: jinn | Oct 20 2021 11:15 utc | 69

Epoch Times picks up the 'missile gap' story and adds that: "US Policy of Restraint Failed".

Western policy-makers are so peace-loving!/sarc

They demonstrated that when they: expanded NATO's borders (despite saying they wouldn't); attacked Iraq on lies; occupied Afghanistan for 20 years; withdrew from numerous peace agreements; established hundreds of bases around the world; maintain massive 'defense' budgets; fund numerous bio-weapons labs; Hillary cackled about Qaddafi's murder: "We came, we saw, he died"; Trump militarized space, pushed for a punishing attack against Iran (when the US drone was downed), and executed Gen. Soleimani; the slow-motion revenge-killing of truth-teller Assange; and so much more.


Posted by: Jackrabbit | Oct 20 2021 13:53 utc | 70

@35 The only problem with shiny new bunkers is that they have to be self-sufficient. They also need security forces to keep the mob away. Can the security forces be trusted becomes the question.

Posted by: dh | Oct 19 2021 1:28 utc | 36>/blockquote>

This is the whole point of the experimental 'vaccines' bollocks.
Without our 'medicines' you will die !

Posted by: Sarlat La Canède | Oct 20 2021 17:17 utc | 71

Good article until it says, "While such a system could have a military mission its large size means that it would be a waste to use it for the delivery of nuclear war heads." Who says that a missile-type reentry vehicle would have to be of a size similar to a reusable transport? China may or may not have conducted two tests and, given there were two of them, it may or may not have been the same kind of test object. If there were two tests of two different objects, one transport, one missile, the missile one was in all probability of a smaller form factor. That seems to be the case with the Russian Avangard as several of them would reportedly fit on one and the same Sarmat once it becomes operational.

Posted by: Guojin | Oct 26 2021 12:00 utc | 72

Posted by: Guojin | Oct 26 2021 12:00 utc | 72

Your point is sound, however it is also true that any use of such missiles to carry nuclear warheads would certainly result in plenty of waste.

Posted by: Bemildred | Oct 26 2021 12:19 utc | 73

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