The US top general said on Wednesday that China’s recent test of a hypersonic missile was similar to the Soviet Union’s launch of the world’s first satellite, Sputnik, in 1957, which triggered the superpowers’ space race.
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview with Bloomberg.
“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,” he added.
“As we go forward - over the next 10, 20, 25 years - there’s no question in my mind that the biggest geostrategic challenge to the US is going be China. They’ve developed a military that’s really significant,” Milley said.
Milley’s comments are the most significant acknowledgement by the US of the reports that China’s military conducted hypersonic missile tests in the summer.
Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that China launched a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile that completed a circuit around the planet before landing, missing its target.
China denied the report saying instead it was a routine spacecraft check.
Soon after the Financial Times report was published, the Pentagon announced it held three “successful” tests on hypersonic weapon component prototype that will inform the development of new weapons.