Brandon J. Weichert, author of Winning Space: How America Remains a Superpower (Republic Book Publishers) joined Gordon G. Chang of Newsweek on The John Batchelor Show to discuss the surprising Chinese hypersonic weapons demonstration.
John Batchelor 0:05
CBS in the world, i’m john bass with Gordon Chang at Gordon G. Chang, and we’re joined by Brandon weikert. Brandon is the author of a book to help me through this next rough patch of explaining hypersonic missiles. His book is winning space, how America remains a superpower. However, within these last hours, we have news from the Financial Times that the People’s Republic of China have tested a weapon that surprised at least one informant for the Financial Times story out of Taiwan. China tested a nuclear capable hypersonic missile in August, that circled the globe before speeding towards its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught us intelligence by surprise. Five people familiar, writes the Financial Times with the tests that the Chinese military launched a rocket that carried a hypersonic glide vehicle which flew through low orbit space before cruising down toward its target. Brandon, a very good evening to the quote in the Financial Times that caught my attention was from a fourth person informed not named, we can presume The Financial Times SPOKE WITH US intelligence. We have no idea how they did this. All right, God my attention. So Brandon, what is the hypersonic missile? And what is it that we’re surprised about? Good evening to you? Oh, good evening,
Brandon J. Weichert 1:32
john. And Gordon, thank you for having me. Again. Unfortunately, under these circumstances, they hypersonic vehicle is exactly as the name sounds, it’s extremely fast. Basically, it’s faster than anything that we have in terms of being able to defend against it’s faster than a missile that that we’re our systems are able to potentially defend against hypersonic goes faster than that. And it can, as the Financial Times reported, it can circle the globe and deliver a payload anywhere in the world in some cases in under half an hour. Now, it’s important to note that the Chinese vehicle in question landed about 20 miles off of target, but still, it demonstrated a real world capability that the United States is lacking in. And China has been throwing a lot of money and research into building working hypersonic vehicles. At the worst end, a hypersonic vehicle could deliver nuclear payload to a target in a way that we wouldn’t be able to defend or track. And on the on the best case scenario, hypersonic vehicle could deliver a non nuclear payload. But again, we would have difficulty tracking and we would not really be able to defend against because all of our defensive systems are aimed at being able to defend against known missile systems, these hypersonic vehicles travel farther and faster, quicker than what known missile systems do as well. hypersonics can go along a polar north south rotation around the Earth, most of our early warning missile systems are primed for tracking an East West direction. So the Chinese also not have this ability to sort of surprise our early warning missile defense systems. Even if we were able to track it again. We don’t really have a viable yet defense or countermeasure against that system. Gordon,
John Batchelor 3:33
you have a question for Brandon.
Gordon G. Chang 3:36
Brandon, our missile radars, as you point out, assume that the weapon is going to come from certain directions. The Chinese now have demonstrated the capability to attack us from any direction. Does this mean that the United States needs to start putting radars on the East Coast, South border and other places which are relatively blind?
Brandon J. Weichert 3:57
Absolutely. And it also means that we need to start doing a Manhattan Project style. You know, project in order to counter this, we should be looking significantly at building out space space defenses. We have a space force we’ve had it since 2018. It’s sort of dithering, though, on what its real mission should be one of its primary missions, not just defending our satellites from attack, but we should also be throwing a lot of money at building out these Face Face defenses as well as Face Face tracking systems that can track on that north south trajectory. And then also we need to be expanding our capabilities to build out our own hypersonic capability. Unfortunately, we’ve been theorizing about it for two decades, we’ve never actually really implemented a project that can build it in the real world. China has built it. In fact, China for several years now has had the world’s most advanced hypersonic wind tunnel in Beijing. It’s It’s better than the lens to Navy for facility that we have, they can test larger vehicles and can do it at a longer timeframe. And that’s very important for r&d. And I think this hypersonic test in August that China did is an example of how they’ve leapfrog the United States in this real world capability. And we better start taking it seriously now because they are going to outflank us in this way,
John Batchelor 5:21
Brandon, Russia has announced that it has tested hypersonic missiles underwater. And I don’t remember the Navy fainting. So what is different about what China’s doing, they’re making threatening remarks or initiating another round of arms race, but what else has happened that we should take China more seriously than we do Russia?
Brandon J. Weichert 5:42
Well, I think the first thing is that as the Financial Times article has said, our intelligence services have no idea how the Chinese did this. We’ve tracked Russia, we know Russia fairly well enough to know what their capabilities are kind of what their intentions are. But China is an opaque system, we don’t have the kind of interconnections diplomatically that with with China on the military to military level that we’ve had with Russia since the Cold War. So there’s that, then there’s also the fact that there’s a lot of technical experts who have questioned the efficacy of the Russian system, whereas the Chinese system has demonstrated a capacity not just to circle the earth and surprise us, but it can get within a range of its target. Now, again, it was about 20 miles off. But you can fix that over time with repeated testing of the of the system. We don’t really see that with Russia yet. But with the Chinese now, it’s a real world threat. And again, China’s got that economy of scale, where they can mass produce something like a hypersonic Arsenal, that Russia still doesn’t have yet. And it’s something that we are now trailing behind the Chinese on and that’s not a good place to be that imbalance, as you know, creates instability in the relationship and could very well lead to a miscalculation where China thinks they can they have won over us, and maybe they even tried to hit us, because they don’t like what we’re doing saying with protecting Taiwan.
John Batchelor 7:11
Gordon, just the Standing Committee won an arms race because they got one.
Gordon G. Chang 7:15
Well, they certainly want an arms race. They want to beat us. They’re building silos at a very fast pace, as we’ve talked about before. And so it looks like they’re on a path not of having a minimal deterrent, as analysts call it they really look like they want to warfighting capacity and to be able to for instance, intimidate others as Brandon has suggested, into surrender before hostilities start.
John Batchelor 7:41
And Gordon, one minute with Brandon, quick question,
Gordon G. Chang 7:46
Brandon, we have arms control treaties with Russia that may prevent us from fielding a weapon like the ones that Chinese tested in August. What are your comments about all of these restrictions? We have a little more than a minute, Brandon.
Brandon J. Weichert 7:59
Sure thing? Well, first of all, as you know, China’s not a signatory to any of those agreements. So it’s not really a fair thing for us to tie our hands behind our back as it relates to the rising power of China just to satisfy Putin. Second thing as john pointed out, Russia has been testing hypersonic weapons far longer than either China or the United States has so in a way that that start to treaty no longer applies. And plus, we haven’t really finalized anything when it as it relates to hypersonics visa v. Russia, so in my opinion, it doesn’t matter anymore. China’s calling everyone’s bluff. Russia has been doing everything under the table. So we need to start doubling down and realizing that our two biggest foes China and Russia are working assiduously and have real world capabilities that we lack so we better start getting in the game otherwise, we’re gonna wake up to a pearl harbor situation possibly and that’s not good for anyone.
John Batchelor 8:54
Brand new mycred is the y could report as well as the author most recently of winning space how America remains a superpower. Gordon Chang at Gordon G. Chang gatestone Newsweek in the hill. This is cbsi in the world. i’m john bachelor.
You’re listening to CBS I on the world with john bachelor.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai
China Tests New Space Capability with Hypersonic Missile – The Financial Times
Beijing’s Hypersonic Feat Stuns US Intel Chiefs – Asia Times
China Denies Report of Hypersonic Missile Test – Al Jazeera
China’s Development of Hypersonic Missiles and Thought on Hypersonic Defense – Jamestown Foundation
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