And this time it came on national television.
U.S. military brass often more subtly expressed their concerns over the expanding size and capabilities of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA). Now, Milley says that Beijing’s apparent launch of a nuclear capable missile that orbited Earth is “very close” to a Sputnik moment. (RELATED: Top Generals’ Testimony Contradicts Biden’s Claim)
The moment Milley referred to is the Sputnik Crisis of October 1957. The ability of the Soviet Union to launch an artificial satellite that fall sparked fears that Russia had surpassed the U.S. technologically.
As Bloomberg reports:
“What we saw was a very significant event of a test of a hypersonic weapon system. And it is very concerning,” General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in an interview for “The David Rubenstein Show: Peer-to-Peer Conversations” on Bloomberg Television. “I don’t know if it’s quite a Sputnik moment, but I think it’s very close to that. It has all of our attention.”
Milley’s comments are the most significant acknowledgment by a U.S. official of reports that China’s military conducted possibly two hypersonic weapons tests over the summer, including the launch into space of an orbiting hypersonic weapon capable of carrying a nuclear payload. The Financial Times first reported the tests, citing officials it didn’t name.
The next-generation technology, if perfected, could be used to send nuclear warheads over the South Pole and around American anti-missile systems in the northern hemisphere. Hypersonic weapons are normally defined as fast, low-flying and highly maneuverable weapons designed to be too quick and agile for traditional missile defense systems.
While Milley stopped short of declaring the weapons test on par with Sputnik — the pioneering 1957 satellite that gave the Soviet Union an early lead in the space race, shocking the U.S. — the comparison showed the depth of concern about Beijing’s work on hypersonic arms.
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