Earlier this month, the United States was alarmed when China officially confirmed that it had successfully tested its hypersonic nuclear missile Wu-14. However, China is not the only one that poses a threat to the U.S. A new report from Jane’s Intelligence (via Washington Free Beacon) claims that Russia tested a similar hypersonic glide vehicle in February.
Project 4022 is Russia’s top secret program
While Russia continues to brag about many of its latest weapons, the nuclear-capable hypersonic missile is one of the top secret projects. According to Jane’s Intelligence, Moscow has been working on the Yu-71 hypersonic vehicle for the last several years. Russia conducted the latest test of its hypersonic missile on February 26, but it was unsuccessful.
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Pavel Podvig, a co-author of the Jane’s report, said that the flight test was released atop an SS-19 missile into near space. The missile was launched from the Dombarovsky missile base. The hypersonic vehicle is part of the secret program Project 4022. Over the past five years, Russia has stepped up efforts on its hypersonic missile program to penetrate the U.S. missile defenses.
China’s program more successful than that of Russia
Both China and Russia’s hypersonic missiles can travel at ten times faster than the speed of sound. It means they can easily clock the speed of over 7,000 miles per hour. However, Podvig says China’s missile is more successful. Even though both Wu-14 and Yu-71 are nuclear capable, the Chinese program has been more successful. Russia’s February test was a failure. Both missiles travel in highly unpredictable ways, so they can thwart American missile defenses that are based on a fixed trajectory.
The Jane’s Intelligence report notes that Moscow could produce up to 24 nuclear-capable Yu-71 between 2020 and 2025. Russia is planning to deploy both nuclear as well as conventional configuration. The United States is also developing a hypersonic missile for its Prompt Global Strike program. It will be capable of precisely hitting targets anywhere in the world within minutes.