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Milley calls China's denied hypersonic test 'very close' to a 'Sputnik moment'

WashingtonExaminer
WashingtonExaminer
 2021-10-27

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Gen. Mark Milley expressed concern about reports that China has tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile, comparing it to the country's own "Sputnik moment," which propelled the Soviets ahead of the United States in the space race.

“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” Milley, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff , said during a Bloomberg Television interview on Wednesday.

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“I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that," Milley added. "It has all of our attention.”

Earlier this month, the Financial Times reported that China had “tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile” that “circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capabilities that caught U.S. intelligence by surprise,” citing unnamed sources “briefed on the intelligence.”

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Zhao Lijian rejected the report days later, saying the test, which occurred in August, was “a spacecraft, not a missile,” adding, "This test was a routine spacecraft experiment to verify the reusable technology of spacecraft, which is of great significance for reducing the cost of spacecraft use."

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Milley is the highest-ranking official to speak directly on the reported hypersonic test.

“We have made clear our concerns about the military capabilities China continues to pursue, capabilities that only increase tensions in the region and beyond," Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said shortly after the original report. "That is one reason why we hold China as our No. 1 pacing challenge.”

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