China’s navy has revealed a previously unknown test of a new hypersonic missile at sea. Footage of the test emerged on Chinese social media just days ahead of the 73rd anniversary of the Chinese navy, and just before talks between U.S. and Chinese defense leaders.
The missile depicted in the video is likely China’s YJ-21, also called the Eagle Strike 21, which is believed to have a maximum range of some 620 miles.
Though the characteristics of the missile are unknown, as no official launches have been documented, analysis by NavalNews suggested that the missile is a cold-launched ballistic anti-ship missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle.
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The test footage comes at a time of increased anxiety in the United States over the lack of a robust domestic hypersonics program. U.S. defense officials have said that the military will need to quickly develop new capabilities in order to counter China’s hypersonic weapons, which they warn could be used as a nuclear first-strike weapon.
Relatedly, the missile was launched from one of China’s Type 055 cruisers. The Type 055 is China’s most formidable surface warfare vessel, and is likely to be a key asset in China’s burgeoning aircraft carrier groups.
The vessel, launched in 2017, is also the largest surface combatant in the world, and boasts a displacement of around 13,000 tons compared to the 9,800 ton Ticonderoga Class cruisers of the U.S. Navy.
“If this missile turns out to be the hypersonic YJ-21, the Type 055 cruisers would arguably become the most heavily armed warships worldwide,” NavalNews said.
The release of the video came just hours after a reportedly tense phone call between U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and his Chinese counterpart Gen. Wei Fenghe, the first such call in Austin’s 15 months in the position.
Following that call, the Pentagon released a short readout saying that the officials had discussed “regional security issues.”
The Chinese regime, meanwhile, released a statement saying that Sino-American relations would be damaged if the United States undermined the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) claim that Taiwan is part of China.
The CCP maintains that Taiwan, which has been self-governed since 1949, is a breakaway province of China, though the regime has never controlled Taiwan. CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping vowed to unite Taiwan and the mainland last year, and has not ruled out the use of force to do so.
The continued de facto independence of Taiwan, a democratic nation and the world’s largest supplier of semiconductors, is thus a sticking point in U.S. and CCP foreign policy.
As such, the Type 055 and missiles like the YJ-21 are fast becoming a key part of Chinese military strategy, insofar as the CCP hopes that the new capabilities will intimidate the United States away from defending Taiwan in the event of an invasion.
To that end, Hu Xijin, the former editor of hawkish CCP-controlled media outlet Global Times, used the Austin-Wei call on April 20 as a pretext to demand that China “strengthen its military buildup” and use nuclear weapons to frighten the United States away from supporting Taiwan.
“It is useless to reason with America,” Hu wrote in a lengthy post on Chinese social media platform WeChat.
“I have said this many times, but I will repeat it again: Don’t worry about how Western public opinion reacts and what other effects there will be. We must build more nuclear warheads and put them on advanced missiles like the DF-41 and JL-3,” he wrote.
Similarly, Hu recently issued a series of threats against Taiwan and the United States on Twitter, vowing that the Chinese military would “smash the Taiwan army” with “thousands of missiles” in the event of an invasion.
From The Epoch Times