The US has allegedly been beaten by China to developing heat-seeking hypersonic missiles that are capable of hitting moving targets on land, water and in the air.
The claim has been made by Chinese researchers and threatens to add heat to the ongoing competition between the superpowers to develop and stockpile the biggest and best weapons.
Back in August, China denied testing a hypersonic missile. However, a projectile is thought to have circled the earth which the Americans fear was a missile test.
The Chinese meanwhile claim the launch was for a spacecraft.
The US is believed to have started making its own version of the hypersonic tech back in February.
Researchers from China's National University of Defence Technology claim the missile can identify a target based on its heat signature.
Writing in the Chinese Air and Space Defence Journal, lead scientist Professor Yi Shihe said China had made: “A series of core technology breakthroughs that were proven effective in tests.
"With effective hypersonic precision strike weapons, the critical value of ‘strategic depth’ in traditional warfare will no longer exist.
"All the critical political, economic and military assets of a country will be at risk.”
Hypersonic missiles were originally designed to hit stationary ground targets at five times the speed of sound, but now this first-generation could have just become outdated with the development of technology able to hit a wider range of targets.
Hypersonic missiles have been used by China and Russia in the past, however, they were not thought to be of much use unless fired in a nuclear attack.
Meanwhile, the USA reports that around 90% of its aircraft to have been shot down since the 1980s have been done so by heat-seeking missiles.
This makes the prospect of a combination of the two technologies a big development.
Before, the development of a missile that used both hypersonic and heat-seeking technology was difficult because the speed of the missile created heat which confused the heat-seeking targeting.
Hypersonic missiles can reach speeds of up to 21,000 mph and can hit anywhere on earth minutes after being launched.
Professor Yi Shihe's paper claims to have developed technology able of cooling the windows of the heat-seeking tech that would normally crack under such high temperatures.
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