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Current Affairs

China’s hypersonic glide vehicle

Date: 19 October 2021 Tags: Military


China has tested a hypersonic glide vehicle in August. The vehicle has nuclear-carrying capacity. 



Hypersonic vehicles have speed five or more times the speed of sound. They circle the globe before speeding towards its target. 



  • The launch was carried out by Chinese military through a rocket that carried the hypersonic vehicle. The launch has surprised US intelligence.

  • The missile missed the target but the test demonstrated the progress made by China in hypersonic weapons technology.

The weapon

  • The weapon was developed by China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA), which works under Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation.

  • The vehicle was on board the Long March rocket, which is used by China for its space programme.

  • The weapons have the capability to fly over the South Pole before striking at a target. This is concerning for US as its defence systems are focused on North polar route.


Other information

  • It is assumed that the hypersonic system used scramjet technology. This technology should be able to handle high temperatures and is very costly.

  • Most military powers in the world including US, Russia and China are in the process of developing hypersonic systems.


Implications for India

  • India needs to be cautious to protect its space assets from such offensive weapons. The defence systems developed must also be able to work in hypersonic conditions.

  • DRDO and ISRO have together demonstrated Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV) last year.


Scramjet technology

  • Scramjet technology works different from Ramjet technology in terms of its propulsion. The engine only carries fuel and combusts by absorbing oxygen from atmosphere.

  • The engine is designed for speeds beyond Mach 6 through supersonic combustion. This allows the engine to operate efficiently at extremely high speeds.