China this week carried out the fourth test of an ultra high-speed nuclear delivery vehicle that conducted what intelligence officials say were extreme maneuvers.
The test of the Wu-14 hypersonic strike vehicle was carried out Sunday, launched atop a ballistic missile fired from a test facility in western China.
It was the fourth successful test of the Wu-14 in the past 18 months and the frequency of tests is being viewed by U.S. intelligence analysts as an indicator of the high priority placed on developing the weapon by the Chinese.
The new strike vehicle is considered a high-technology strategic weapon capable of delivering nuclear or conventional warheads while traveling on the edge of space. One of its key features is the ability to maneuver to avoid U.S. missile defenses.
The Wu-14 was assessed as traveling up to 10 times the speed of sound, or around 7,680 miles per hour.
Unlike earlier tests, the latest test demonstrated what one official called “extreme maneuvers” that appeared to analysts designed for penetrating through missile defense systems.