China's Hypersonic Weapon
Given the confrontation between China and the United States in the Pacific region, China is closely monitoring what the United States is developing in the field of hypersonic weapons. China is conducting its intensive development in this direction, trying to prevent the US from gaining superiority in this type of weapons.
One of the key areas in the development of hypersonic weapons is the creation of hypersonic glider combat units. They can be completely without engines or equipped with various types of propulsion systems: liquid or solid-fuel rocket engines, as well as hypersonic ramjet engines. The most promising option in terms of getting the maximum speed – more than 20 Mach.
China's aerospace state engineering company CASC, which has been dealing with this problem for more than 15 years, reported a successful test of a hypersonic ramjet engine in the summer of 2017. CASC announced the first successful tests of solid-fuel supersonic engines for air–to–air missiles and anti-ship air-to-surface missiles for the new 4th-5th generation J-20 fighters and presumably the 5th generation J-31 fighters. The hypersonic vehicle is designed to effectively overcome air defense and missile defense systems. This will allow both tactical strikes in the course of regional military operations, and a quick strike on the enemy's nuclear forces.
If China adopts hypersonic gliders on intercontinental carriers, Beijing will receive a means of effectively overcoming American missile defense systems. Hypersonic maneuvering aircraft can also be equipped with a nuclear charge. It is also likely to be equipped with hypersonic maneuvering warheads of individual ICBM guidance. This will be significant for the US-China nuclear deterrent in terms of the possibility of a limited strike due to the multiplicity and disunity of the US nuclear forces.
In the near term, China is considering strengthening non-nuclear deterrence, which is more plausible. China's non-nuclear missile forces are becoming a more flexible tool than nuclear weapons. Its main goal is not to dissuade the enemy from attacking China, but to force them to accept Beijing's demands on pain of striking.
China has managed to develop a significant potential for launching a missile strike at the regional level and to change the balance of power in a local conflict. According to expert estimates, China has more than 2000 deployed intermediate-range and shorter-range ballistic missiles, as well as land-based intermediate-range cruise missiles with a range of up to 4000 km. And with the adoption of hypersonic missiles, this potential will significantly increase.