Top US General Mark Milley has called China’s recent hypersonic bullet test “ veritably close” to a Sputnik moment.

The president of the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an interview with Bloomberg TV called “ the test of a hypersonic armament system” – first reported by the Financial Times last week – a “ veritably significant technological event that passed”.

“ I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I suppose it’s veritably near to that,” he said in the interview that vented on Wednesday, pertaining to the Soviet Union’s launch of a satellite in 1957 that signified their substantial lead in the so-called “ space race” with the US that defined that period.

Like the Sputnik launch, judges have said China’s test could launch a continuing technological race between the superpowers into hyperdrive.

Milley added China’s munitions system development was “ veritably concerning”.

Last week, the Financial Times reported that China had conducted not one, but two tests of a new hypersonic munitions system, which judges said can deliver loads extremely snappily, shirk ultramodern radar systems, and probably far outshine current US capabilities.

The review reported that on July 27, Beijing launched a rocket that employed a “ fractional orbital hail” system to propel a nuclear-able “ hypersonic glide vehicle” around the Earth for the first time.

On August 13, China conducted its alternate hypersonic test, according to the review, which described US officers as “ stupefied” and “ floundering to understand” the capabilities of the new technology.

Milley’s commentary represents the most substantial public acknowledgement yet from a US defence functionary on the tests and their counteraccusations. Following the original reports on the tests, US President Joe Biden had said he was concerned by the development.

Beijing, for its part, has denied it was testing a hypersonic armament, rather saying the test was of an applicable “ space vehicle”.

Changes in the character of war’
In the Bloomberg interview, Milley said the US is also “ easily experimenting, and testing and developing technologies to include hypersonic, artificial intelligence, robotics – a whole wide range”.

Days before, the Pentagon blazoned it had conducted three tests on factors that will inform the development of a US hypersonic munitions system.

Still, on Tuesday, the head of major defence contractor Raytheon advised that the US is at least “ several times behind” developing the technology tested by China.

Milley added that China’s technology and munitions capabilities were “ expanding fleetly”, and that the US would have to acclimatize.

“ Now, if you take a step back, what we ’re in history-wise, we ’re in one of the most significant changes in what I call the‘ character of war, ’” Milley said. “ We ’re going to have to acclimate our service going forward.”

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