Chinese hypersonic missile test 'went around the world,' top US general says

China’s hypersonic missile test from over the summer went “around the world,” a top U.S. general said Tuesday. 

Gen. John Hyten, outgoing vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told CBS News about the test during an interview. The test reportedly occurred in July, according to the Financial Times.

China “launched a long-range missile,” Hyten told CBS. “It went around the world, dropped off a hypersonic glide vehicle that glided all the way back to China, that impacted the target in China.”

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When asked if the missile hit the target, Hyten said, “Close enough.”

The Times reported in mid-October that the Chinese military launched a “fractional orbital bombardment system” to propel a hypersonic glide vehicle around the world on July 27. A second test was conducted on Aug. 13.

Gen. Mark MilleyMark MilleyBiden to attend services for Bob Dole To advance democracy, defend Taiwan and Ukraine Overnight Defense & National Security — Preparing for the Biden-Putin call MORE, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, later acknowledged China conducted a hypersonic weapons test, which he said came “very close” to a “Sputnik moment.”

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Defense Secretary Lloyd AustinLloyd AustinOvernight Defense & National Security — Preparing for the Biden-Putin call Five things to know about Russia's troop buildup near Ukraine  Austin warns Congress of 'enormous' negative effects of yearlong stopgap bill MORE said he wouldn’t call the test a “Sputnik moment” but that the U.S. has “concerns” about China’s growing military capabilities.

“I've highlighted the [People’s Republic of China] as our pacing challenge,” Austin said. “And we continue to do everything that we can to develop the right capabilities and also the right concepts that we think will be necessary and will be effective in any kind of contest and going forward.”

“That includes China, Russia or any other country that will want to take us on,” he added.

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Hyten’s comments come amid growing concerns about China’s nuclear capabilities amid heightened tensions with Taiwan, which China claims as its territory.

Earlier this month, the Pentagon released a report stating that Beijing would likely have 1,000 nuclear warheads by 2030, far outpacing the agency’s previous estimates. 

The report also found that China was developing new intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and has begun building at least three ICBM silo fields.

Hyten told CBS that he thinks the Chinese are preparing to launch a “surprise” attack on the U.S.

“Why are they building all this capability?” Hyten said. “They look like a first-use weapon. That’s what those weapons look like to me.” 

Updated at 3:10 p.m.