China successfully tested its first cutting-edge hypersonic “waverider” flight vehicle (aircraft) Xingkong-2 (Starry Sky-2). Waverider is flight vehicle that flies in atmosphere and uses shockwaves generated by its own hypersonic flight with air to glide at high speed. Currently, United States and Russia have been carrying out similar experiments.
The Xingkong-2 hypersonic waverider flight vehicle was released in air from rocket after about 10 minutes. After its launch, it flew independently, made large-angle turning maneuvers and landed in targeted area as planned. During test, it had reached 30 kms in altitude at Mach 5.5-6 speed. The test successfully proved various parameters of flight vehicle, thus marking successful launch of Xingkong-2 and first flight of Chinese waverider.
Xingkong-2 (Starry Sky-2)
The hypersonic waverider flight vehicle was designed by state-run China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) in collaboration with China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation. It can carry can carry both conventional and nuclear warheads. It has capability to penetrate any current generation anti-missile defence systems due to its high speed and unpredictable trajectory. As compared to it, current generation of anti-missile defence systems is mainly designed to intercept cruise and ballistic missiles which are either slower or easier to predict, making them possible to intercept. In addition to its military use, hypersonic waverider flight vehicle may also see civil use in the future.
The test showed that China is advancing shoulder-to-shoulder with US and Russia in developing hypersonic waverider flight vehicle. China is expected to test this wave rider more frequently in future before being handed over for final deployment to People’s Liberation Army (PLA).