A startling new investigative report by the news agency Reuters published on Thursday paints a bleak picture for the United States military if it ever finds itself in a shooting war with China.
According to the Reuters findings, the Chinese — who never signed the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty that restricts missile development by the U.S. and Russia, as The Diplomat chronicles — have used the last three decades to develop a new generation of missiles that "rival or outperform their counterparts in the armories of the United States and its allies."
China's missiles are capable of taking out American aircraft carriers in Asia, and have the range to strike and destroy U.S. military bases there, according to the report. In fact, the maximum range of one Chinese land-based missile is reportedly 2,485 miles — compared to a maximum of 300 miles for U.S ground-launched missiles, according to a summary of the Reuters report by Britain's The Daily Mail newspaper.
In addition, China is making "rapid strides" in developing hypersonic missiles which can travel at incredible speeds up to 15 times the speed of sound, while also executing precision in-flight maneuvers. Pentagon officials who spoke to Reuters admitted that the U.S. currently has no defense capable of stopping a hypersonic missile of the kind developed by China.Britain's Sun newspaper on Thursday published what it said were "leaked" photos of one new Chinese hypersonic missile, known as the Jia Geng Number One rocket. The missile is estimated to measure 28.5 feet and weigh about 8,000 pounds.
The images surfaced this week on the Chinese-language social media platform QQ.com. An article accompanying the photos claimed that the new missile had recently been successfully launched from a desert area in northwest China. The article also states that the Jia Geng Number One missile can reach maximum altitude of 81,000 feet or more than 15 miles.
According to an analysis by Popular Mechanics, the missile likely uses "scramjet" propulsion technology which can increase the maximum speed from five times the speed of sound, or about 3,850 miles per hour, to "Mach 15," which would be 11,550 miles per hour — too fast for any U.S. missile defense system to intercept.
Also in the Chinese missile arsenal, according to the Reuters report, are so-called "carrier-killer" missiles which can target and destroy U.S. aircraft carriers as well as other warships at sea, at ranges up to 900 miles away.
"We know that China has the most advanced ballistic missile force in the world," retired U.S. Navy captain and former Pacific fleet senior intelligence officer James Fanell told Reuters. "They have the capacity to overwhelm the defensive systems we are pursuing."