US No Longer World Leader in Weapon Development

China showcased its DF-17 hypersonic missile in service at its 2019 military parade marking the 70th anniversary of the founding of PRC. Russia has also showcased its hypersonic weapons. The US, however, plans to deploy its first hypersonic weapon by 2028.

Hypersonic weapons are the weapons of future, but the US began research of such weapons much later and allocated much less funds than China and Russia in the research and development of such weapons while wasting lots of resources in developing useless Zumwalt destroyers and LCSs and troublesome F-35s. It began to attach importance to the development of hypersonic weapons only after China and Russia have deployed such weapons. That proves that the US is no longer world leader in weapon development.

Note: the Global Strike described in Popular Mechanics’ article will be HGV (hypersonic glide vehicle) the same as DF-17. As HGV is fast enough to strike anywhere within a couple of hours why shall it be deployed in a submarine to make development more complicated.

A DF-17 is deployed on a mobile truck that can be hidden in China’s 5,000-km tunnels more secure than in a submarine.

China is now developing hypersonic aircraft powered by jet, scramjet and rocket that can take off and land on conventional airfield. It, however, will take years for the US to obtain HGV missiles.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on Popular Mechanics’ article “One of the Pentagon’s First Hypersonic Weapons Will Ride on Submarines”, full text of which can be viewed at

China Tests World First Waverider Hypersonic Aircraft

I have a post commenting on SCMP’s report about China’s successful test of the captioned aircraft yesterday. However, as SCMP’s report lacks the details provided by CCTV in its report on the same topic and as readers are very much interested in the aircraft, I place this post on the aircraft as supplement to my previous post.

All-round test has been carried out during the test flight including optical, radar and remote measuring tests. The flight is entirely under control. The aircraft provides effective scientific data and was wholly recovered.

The test proved the superior design of the waverider. Waveriding enables the aircraft to have high lift-to-drag ratio. Such a design can be used for hypersonic flying vehicle in the future.

Source: CCTV “China has successfully tested its first waverider hypersonic flying vehicle” (summary by Chan Kai Yee based on CCTV article)

China Successfully Test Hypersonic Waverider Aircraft.

SCMP says in its report “China’s hypersonic aircraft, Starry Sky-2, could be used to carry nuclear missiles at six times the speed of sound”, “First test flight of experimental design, which rides its own shock waves, deemed a ‘huge success’

The device is called waverider by Chinese scientists who have developed it. That is not China’s first hypersonic flying vehicle. China has been testing hypersonic glide vehicles since 2014.

However, this was the first test of waverider, a hypersonic aircraft that takes off from a rocket but lands on its own. It flew at the maximum speed of Mach 6. It will be an aircraft able to carry and fire hypersonic missiles unstoppable by any existing missile defense systems.

The report quotes Beijing-based military analyst Zhou Chenming as saying “I think there are still three to five years before this technology can be weaponised” .

Both the US and Russia are making great efforts to develop hypersonic weapons.

Russia has developed Kinzhal hypersonic missile system that had reached speeds of Mach 20 and will come into operation in 2019

SCMP says, “The US is working on several designs, including the Hypersonic Technology Vehicle 2 and Advanced Hypersonic Weapon. Earlier this year, the US Air Force allocated US$1 billion for the design and development of a hypersonic missile that could be launched from a warplane.”

Both Russia and the US are developing hypersonic missiles while neither of them is developing hypersonic aircraft like what China has been doing.

Comment by Chan Kai Yee on SCMP’s report, full text of which can be viewed at

China’s opening a factory to build engines for hypersonic missiles and spaceplanes

Reconnaissance and strike capabilities of aircrafts with these engines could upend air combat and strategies around the world.

By Jeffrey Lin and P.W. Singer May 3, 2018

China hypersonic I plane biplane Cui Kai
I Plane
The hypersonic I Plane has a unique biplane configuration to increase its payload and reduce drag.
China Science Press

The Institute of Mechanics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences is building a factory for the commercial production of hypersonic engines, a game-changing technology with both military and civilian applications.

The institute’s scramjet lead scientist, Fan Xuejun, told the South China Morning Post that the factory in Hefei, Anhui Province, would make a wide range of hypersonic engines, and that the state-owned enterprise in charge of the operation will be eventually open up to private investors.

China hyperspace combined cycle TRRE nearspace
The turbo-aided rocket-augmented ram/scramjet engine (TRRE), which uses rocket augmentation to aid the transition into the supersonic and hypersonic flight regimes, could be the world’s first combined cycle engine to fly in 2025, paving the way for hypersonic near-space planes and single-stage space launchers.
Beijing Power Machinery Research Institute

So what is a scramjet? It’s an air-breathing jet engine that lets air flow through faster than the speed of sound. This allows the aircraft to reach hypersonic speeds (Mach 5+) that traditional ramjets, whose forward motion compresses the airflow to subsonic speeds, cannot.

The scramjets built in the Hefei factory will likely be part of a Turbo Rocket Combined Cycle (TRCC) engine, which uses (1) a turbofan jet engine for subsonic and low supersonic speeds, (2) a ramjet engine to transition into scramjet mode, and (3) a rocket engine for the highest speed. A TRCC engine would allow for reusable hypersonic aircraft, which would lower operating costs.

China WS-10 Turbofan Engine
The WS-10A, which powers the J-11 heavy fighters, is China’s first operational low-bypass, afterburning turbofan engine. It can be distinguished from the AL-31 by the triangular petals on its rear interior, which help manipulate exhaust flow.

As plans are already being drawn for the factory construction, it is likely that the first TRCC engine will use an operational Chinese turbofan, either the WS-10 or WS-118.

The WS-10 engine, which has a maximum thrust of around 13 tons, is used by the J-11 and J-16 fighters. The WS-118, a copy of the Soviet D-30 engine, could be modified with an afterburner to achieve supersonic performance. As Chinese engine technology improves, the supercruise-capable WS-15, which has supersonic performance without fuel-thirsty afterburners, could be the springboard for future TRCC engines.

It’s unclear when exactly Hefei will start churning out hypersonic engines. What is clear: TRCC scramjet engines would be a boon for the Chinese military. This tech makes the production of long-range hypersonic aircraft—the kind that can fly in near-space and outrun and outmaneuver existing air defenses—much more feasible. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that reconnaissance and strike capabilities of such aircrafts, if built, would upend air combat and strategic doctrine around the world.

Tengyun China Hypersonic Spaceplane
The Tengyun, which has a rocket/TRCC-powered first stage hypersonic plane, launches a reusable second-stage rocket spaceplane from the stratosphere.

On the civilian front, the production of hypersonic aircraft would redefine the reusable space launch market. These engines could pave the way for reusable aircraft to cheaply launch satellites and people into space. Initially, the hypersonic engines would likely power the first stage of Chinese dual-stage-to-orbit (DSTO) spaceplanes that reach hypersonic speed to launch a secondary rocket to orbit. The Tengyun, built by the Chinese Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation (CASIC) is one such planned Chinese DSTO system. The Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Company (CASC) has plans for a single-stage-to-orbit (SSTO) spaceplane to start flight after 2030, with powerful enough rocket engines to fly the entire aircraft straight to orbit.

Peter Warren Singer is a strategist and senior fellow at the New America Foundation. He has been named by Defense News as one of the 100 most influential people in defense issues. He was also dubbed an official “Mad Scientist” for the U.S. Army’s Training and Doctrine Command. Jeffrey is a national security professional in the greater D.C. area.

Source: Popular Science “China’s opening a factory to build engines for hypersonic missiles and spaceplanes”

Note: This is Popular Science’s article I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the article’s views.

China builds world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons that could strike US within 14 minutes

Researchers want new facility to be up and running by 2020 as race to develop hypersonic technology intensifies

China is testing a range of hypersonic aircraft, which can travel at many times the speed of sound. Photo: SCMP

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 9:01pm

UPDATED : Wednesday, 15 November, 2017, 11:26pm

A hypersonic vehicle flying at this speed from China could reach the west coast of the United States in less than 14 minutes.

Zhao Wei, a senior scientist working on the project, said researchers aimed to have the facility up and running by around 2020 to meet the pressing demand of China’s hypersonic weapon development programme.

“It will boost the engineering application of hypersonic technology, mostly in military sectors, by duplicating the environment of extreme hypersonic flights, so problems can be discovered and solved on the ground,” said Zhao, a deputy director of the State Key Laboratory of High Temperature Gas Dynamics at the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Beijing.

The ground tests will significantly reduce the risk of failure when test flights of hypersonic aircraft start.

The world’s most powerful wind tunnel at present is America’s LENX-X facility in Buffalo, New York state, which operates at speeds of up to 10 kilometres per second – 30 times the speed of sound.

Hypersonic aircraft are defined as vehicles that travel of speeds of Mach 5, five times the speed of sound, or above.

The US military tested HTV-2, a Mach 20 unmanned aircraft in 2011 but the hypersonic flight lasted only a few minutes before the vehicle crashed in to the Pacific Ocean.

In March China conducted seven successful test flights of its hypersonic glider WU-14, also known as the DF-ZF, at speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10.

Other countries including Russia, India and Australia have also tested some early prototypes of the aircraft, which could be used to deliver missiles including nuclear weapons.

“China and the US have started a hypersonic race,” said Wu Dafang, professor at the school of aeronautic science and engineering at Beihang University in Beijing who received a national technology award for the invention of a new heat shield used on hypersonic vehicles in 2013.

The JF-12 hypersonic wind tunnel near Beijing is able to replicate hypersonic flight conditions. Photo: SCMP

Wu has worked on the development of hypersonic cruise missiles, a near space vehicle, high-speed drones and other possible weapons for the People’s Liberation Army.

He said there were a number of hypersonic wind tunnels in mainland China which had helped ensure the high success rate of its hypersonic weapon tests.

The new wind tunnel will be “one of the most powerful and advanced ground test facilities for hypersonic vehicles in the world”, said Wu, who was not involved in the project.

“This is definitely good news for us. I look forward to its completion,” he added.

In the new tunnel there will be a test chamber with room for relatively large aircraft models with a wing span of almost three metres.

To generate an airflow at extremely high speeds, the researchers will detonate several tubes containing a mixture of oxygen, hydrogen and nitrogen gases for a series of explosions that could discharge one gigawatt of power within a split second, according to Zhao.

This is more than half of the total power generation capacity of the Daya Bay nuclear power plant in Guangdong.

The shock waves, channelled into the test chamber through a metallic tunnel, will envelope the prototype vehicle and increase the temperature over its body to 8,000 Kelvins, or 7,727 degrees Celsius, Zhao said.

That is nearly 50 per cent hotter than the surface of the Sun.

The hypersonic vehicle therefore must be covered by special materials with extremely efficient cooling systems inside the airframe to dissipate the heat, otherwise it could easily veer off the course or disintegrate during a long-distance flight.

The new tunnel would also be used to test the scramjet, a new type of jet engine designed specifically for hypersonic flights. Traditional jet engines are not capable of handling air flows at such speeds.

The JF12 facility has been in operation since 2012, testing a variety of hypersonic weapons. Photo: SCMP

Zhao said the construction of the new facility would be led by the same team that built JF12, a hypervelocity denotation-driven shock tunnel in Beijing capable of duplicating flight conditions at speeds ranging from Mach 5 to Mach 9 at altitudes between 20 and 50 kilometres.

Jiang Zonglin, lead developer of the JF12, won the annual Ground Test Award issued by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics last year for advancing “state-of-the-art large-scale hypersonic test facilities”.

Jiang’s JF12 design “uses no moving parts and generates a longer test-duration and a higher energy flow than more traditionally designed tunnels”, according to the American institute.

According to state media reports, the JF12 tunnel has been operating at full capacity with a new test every two days since its completion in 2012 as the pace of hypersonic weapon development increased significantly in recent years.

In an article published in the domestic journal National Science Review last month, Jiang said the impact of hypersonic flights on society could be “revolutionary”.

“With practical hypersonic aeroplanes, a two-hour flight to anywhere in the world will be possible” while the cost of space travel could be cut by 99 per cent with reusable spacecraft technology, Jiang wrote.

“Hypersonic flight is, and in the foreseeable future will be, the driver of national security, and civilian transportation and space access,” he added.

The escape velocity, or the minimum speed needed to leave the Earth, is 11 kilometres per second.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Wind tunnel to give China edge in hypersonic tests

Source: SCMP “China builds world’s fastest wind tunnel to test weapons that could strike US within 14 minutes”
Note: This is SCMP’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

China Reveals Images of New Hypersonic Strike Aircraft

Chinese model of hypersonic aircraft
Washington Free Beacon photo

Model of China’s hypersonic warhead. Washingdon Free Becon photo

This may be China’s hypersonic aircraft. Photo from CCTV footage.

Ultra high-speed vehicles shown for first time on state-run television

BY: Bill Gertz

November 8, 2017 2:10 pm

China has disclosed the first images of secret hypersonic strike aircraft that are being developed to deliver nuclear warheads through U.S. missile defenses. State-run CCTV on Oct. 8 broadcast images of four different vehicles or missiles that U.S. intelligence agencies believe are mockups of hypersonic strike vehicles, including one known as DF-ZF.

It is the first time images of the hypersonic aircraft were made public.

The Free Beacon first reported China’s initial flight test of the hypersonic glider in January 2014. Since then, six other flight tests have been carried out in what U.S. intelligence officials believe is a high-priority weapons program for the Chinese.

China’s Defense Ministry confirmed the first flight test nearly four years ago but sought to play down the arms development.

“Our planned scientific research tests conducted in our territory are normal,” the ministry said in the statement. “These tests are not targeted at any country and at any specific goals.”

U.S. officials have told Congress the initial use of the new hypersonic glider will be for delivering nuclear warheads through what China believes will be a future global U.S. missile defense shield directed against its missiles.

The most advanced hypersonic missile is the DF-ZF glider that is launched atop a ballistic missile and then glides to its target in near space. The glider is capable of maneuvering at speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10—3,836 miles per hour and 7,672 miles per hour, respectively.

Such high speeds require special materials and electronics capable of withstanding the high temperatures and pressures created by those velocities.

The Oct. 8 broadcast reported on China’s development of a hypersonic wind tunnel that is used for testing the high-speed strike vehicles. The test system is located in Beijing and is known as the JF12 shock wave wind tunnel. A technician from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Jiang Zonglin, told CCTV the tunnel is comparable to an unspecified “renowned” U.S. wind tunnel.

Jiang said the JF12 “has reached the world’s advanced level” and is capable of revealing many issues U.S. researchers have yet to discover about hypersonic flight.

According to Jiang, tests at the JF12 are conducted every two days and the facility will be operating at full capacity through the end of the year.

China expects to increase the speed of next generation hypersonic vehicles past the current Mach 5 limit, the report said.

The broadcast showed three hypersonic vehicles over various shapes, including a triangular-shaped glider, and one weapon that appeared similar in shape to the last stage of a ballistic missile.

The report also included images of the JF12 that stated the tunnel creates wind speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10 and uses a nozzle diameter of 8.2 feet. The test duration is 100 milliseconds.

The Pentagon’s 2013 annual report on the Chinese military mentioned the JF12 wind tunnel as a development of the China Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Mechanics.

The Institute announced in May 2012 that it began hypersonic testing of the super-large wind tunnel that China claimed is the largest in the world.

Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the Strategic Command, said in July he is worried about the development of hypersonic missiles by China and Russia. The United States is also pursuing the weaponry, he said.

“Hypersonic technology is concerning to me, but it’s really no more concerning to me than any cruise missile technology, any ballistic missile technology,” Hyten said. “We have to be prepared to defend ourselves against all those threats. And we have to have a deterrent that is ready to respond in case any of those break out.”

The National Air and Space Intelligence Center stated in a report made public last summer that hypersonic glide vehicles are a new class of weapons and an emerging threat. Hypersonic missiles “are maneuverable vehicles that travel at hypersonic (greater than Mach 5) speed and spend most of their flight at much lower altitudes than a typical ballistic missile,” the report said. “The combination of high speed, maneuverability, and relatively low altitude makes them challenging targets for missile defense systems,” the report added, noting they are currently being developed by Russia and China.

Congress last year passed legislation requiring the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency to create a dedicated program aimed at countering hypersonic missile threats.

An Air Force-sponsored study warned last year that the United States is falling behind in the emerging hypersonic arms race.

“The People’s Republic of China and the Russian Federation are already flight-testing high-speed maneuvering weapons that may endanger both forward-deployed U.S. forces and even the continental United States,” the study said. “These weapons appear to operate in regimes of speed and altitude, with maneuverability that could frustrate existing missile defense constructs and weapon capabilities.”

The growing threat of hypersonic arms is said by U.S. officials to be part of two major Pentagon studies that are nearing completion. One is the nuclear posture review that will include an examination of strategic threats to the United States posed by hypersonic nuclear delivery vehicles. A second is a review of strategic missile defenses that are being challenged by new hypersonic and other maneuvering missiles.

Rick Fisher, a China weapons expert with the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the Chinese television broadcast confirms reports about the new high-technology weapons development.

“This CCTV show provides additional validation that China is developing hypersonic maneuverable reentry vehicles (MaRVs) that some PLA experts suggest in the future may also be launched from PLA navy ships to attack U.S. Navy ships.”

“The delta shape may be a generic test model or it could indicate the shape of an early PLA MaRV warhead.”

China’s development of high-speed maneuvering warheads is a high threat because “this type of warhead is much more difficult to intercept with current U.S. missile defenses,” Fisher said.

Three years ago, Lee Fuell, an intelligence analyst with the National Air and Space Intelligence Center, told Congress China’s hypersonic glider appears designed for nuclear weapons.

“At this point, we think that’s associated with their nuclear deterrent forces,” Fuell said. “Of great concern would be if they were to apply the same technology and capability with a conventional warhead or even just without a warhead because of the kinetic energy that it has.”

In addition to an unpowered glider, China also is developing a scramjet-powered hypersonic missile. A Chinese technical publication reported in May that a breakthrough was made in development of a ramjet engine for hypersonic missiles.

The CCTV broadcast on the hypersonic missiles was first reported by the online newsletter “The War Zone” on Tuesday.

Source: Washington Free Beacon “China Reveals Images of New Hypersonic Strike Aircraft”

Note: This is Washington Free Beacon’s report I post here for readers’ information. It does not mean that I agree or disagree with the report’ views.

The Secret of China’s Hypersonic Long-range Bombers

An aerospace bomber killing an entire aircraft carrier battle group. Picture from the cover page of the book “Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The U.S.”

I speculated that China will develop aerospace bomber based on Chinese President Xi Jinping’s instruction to Chinese air force on the development of integrated space and air capabilities for both attack and defense. On the basis of the existing technology and the required capabilities, I foresee that China will develop such bombers and published the idea in my book “Space Era Strategy: The Way China Beats The U.S.” when there has been no information whatever in public domain about such bomber, not even any information that China is developing any long-range bombers.

However, my speculation was proved by a report on China’s Science and Technology Daily’s interview on March 12, 2016 with Tan Yonghua, head of No. 6 Research Institute under the China Aerospace Science and Technology when he attended NPC (National People’s Congress, China’s parliament) 2016 annual session.

Tan said in the interview that China’s long-term development goal is to develop an aerospace aircraft that can take off and land horizontally. The aircraft has to use integrated jet, scramjet and rocket engine. It uses jet engine to reach the speed to commence the operation of scramjet, which will enable the aircraft to fly at hypersonic speed at near space. Then the rocket engine of the aircraft will be ignited to send the aircraft to its orbit in space.

When an aerospace bomber dives down from its orbit to attack an aircraft carrier battle group, its initial speed is 7.8 km per hour, i.e. Mach 23. It accelerates due to gravity.

When it fires its missiles at the battle group, the initial speed of the missiles will be greater than Mach 23 so that the missiles are flying at super hypersonic speed and need only a little fuel for control of its trajectory to ensure accurate hit of their targets.

With such speed, there is no defense against the attack as at Mach 23, it takes only 10 seconds for the missiles to reach the warships assuming the missiles are fired from 80 km away.

I have the picture on top as the cover page of my book to describe the killing of an entire aircraft carrier battle group by a single aerospace bomber.

A long-range bomber like US B-2 can take a maximum load of 77 tons but it has to carry 70 tons of fuel to reach China with only 7 tons left for ammunition. To carry more ammunition, it has to refuel. Its maximum speed is only Mach 0.9 but has to slow down because the refueling tanker is slower. That makes it vulnerable to ordinary fighter jets as the refueling tanker is not stealth and can be easily detected along with the B-2 by the fighter jets.

An aerospace bomber, however, can get supply of weapons and fuel from transport rocket when it is in its orbit just like a space station so that it can use almost all its loading capacity to carry missiles when it has spent all its fuel to reach its orbit. Moreover, the missiles are light in weight as when they are fired they have the speed of Mach 23 of the aircraft so that they need no fuel for their speed but only a little fuel for maneuverability.

US long-range strategic bomber B-2 was developed more than two decades ago. It can easily be detected and shot down by the most advanced radar and stealth fighter jets so that it is in fact obsolete now.

China’s aerospace bombers are the weapons of the future. The US is not developing any of their rivals.

Now China’s development of aerospace aircrafts is no secret. Popular Science makes a comparison between America’s and China’s and shows how inferior American ones are to Chinese ones as America’s development of such aircrafts is conducted by private weapon developers with their own funds. They have the risk of inability to recover their development costs.

China’s is done by state-owned developers with the support of government funds. CASIC (the Chinese Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation)’s Teng Yun DSTO two-stage spaceplane project alone has $16 billion funds.

As a result US ones are small and unmanned while Chinese ones are big and manned. The article in Popular Science provides the following data about the two countries’ hypersonic aircrafts:

Lockheed Martin’s SR-72 Scramjet Hypersonic airplane
Turbine rocket combined cycle (TRCC) engine
Not a spaceplane
Speed: Mach 6
Altitudes: 18 and 62 miles
test flight by 2030

Boeing’s XS-1 DARPA Phantom Express
Duel-state-to-orbit (DSTO) two-stage spaceplane
Stage one:
hypersonic plane powered by liquid fueled rockets. Once the XS-1 is in near space Altitude: 18- to 62-mile, stage two leaves stage one to go to space.
Stage two (to replace satellite):
Low-earth orbit
Weight: 1.5 ton

CASIC (the Chinese Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation)’s Teng Yun
DSTO two-stage spaceplane
First stage
TRCC engine
Speed: hypersonic
Altitude: near-space
Payload: 10-15 tons
For fast, global reconnaissance and strike
Second stage:
Manned or as launch rocket
Send five taikonauts or 2 ton cargo to Chinese space station.
To be delivered by 2030
Funds: $16 billion

CASC (Chinese Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation)’s spaceplane
A true spaceplane that can depart from and reenter orbit on multiple occasions during the same flight, traveling at greater speed compared to a near-space-only hypersonic aircraft such as SR-72.
SSTO (single-stage-to-orbit), a true spaceplane with only one stage
TRRE (The turbo-aided rocket-augmented ram/scramjet engine) paving the way for hypersonic near space planes and single-stage space launchers. The engine is to be developed by Beijing Power Machinery Research Institute to fly in 2025.
Manned for space travel
To fly with people on board by 2030

Article by Chan Kai Yee