(foxnews) – A new report that China is using full-scale targets of U.S. warships in a desert region known for ballistic missile testing is the latest incident that has U.S. officials in Congress and the Pentagon concerned about Chinese aggression.
The information, coming from satellite images obtained by the U.S. Naval Institute, follows a Pentagon report from last week that confirmed China is building nuclear warheads at an “accelerating pace” and could have 1,000 by the end of the decade, a significantly speedier pace than the U.S. had observed one year ago.
On top of that, it is believed that China had tested hypersonic missile technology capable of evading U.S. defense systems by orbiting the Earth. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley confirmed reports of the high-speed missile, calling the launch a “very concerning” development and likening it to the 1957 launch of Sputnik by the Soviet Union, which sparked a decades-long space race.
“I’m not one to mince words — it is an arms race,” Michael Griffin, a former undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, told NPR. “And critically, we didn’t start it.”
Griffin said that that the new weapon could potentially strike a U.S. ship anywhere on Earth, which is “a really big deal,” and “allows it to expand its influence in the region.”
“They are clearly challenging us regionally and their aspiration is to challenge the United States globally,” Milley told NBC News on Wednesday.
China has downplayed the activity, alleging the U.S. has concocted China as an “imaginary enemy.” Chinese spokesman Wang Webin told reporters it was a “routine test of spacecraft.”
Heino Klinck, former deputy assistant secretary of defense for East Asia under the Trump administration, told Fox News this pretext is categorically inaccurate, given the rare nature of the missile technology.
“They are not common. It’s an emerging technology,” Klinck said. “There is no military that has yet fielded hypersonic weapons anywhere in the world.”
The tested missile circled the globe before speeding towards its target, which it missed by about two-dozen miles, three individuals briefed on the intelligence reportedly told The Financial Times.
“We have no idea how they did this,” one of them said.
Taylor Fravel, an expert on Chinese nuclear weapons and professor at MIT, said it would be “destabilizing” if China fully developed and deployed such a weapon.
Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. James Inhofe, R-Okla., expressed concern over what these latest developments mean for the U.S.
“We are in the most, I believe, the most endangered position our country has ever been in terms of what China is demonstrating, clearly, what they have the capability of doing,” Inhofe said, according to The Hill. Video
House Armed Services Committee ranking member Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., said the U.S. needs “unprecedented defense modernization” in order to keep up, The Hill reported.
“This report should crystallize for the Biden Administration what has been self-evident for some time – that China poses a real and imminent threat. Kicking the can down the road for our own military modernization is no longer an option,” he said.
Former Air Force chief software officer Nicolas Chaillan suggested how the U.S. can counter this.
“The better way and probably the only way to succeed at defending ourselves against these kind of attacks will be through artificial intelligence capabilities,” Chaillan told Fox News.
Chaillan warned, however, that the U.S. “is running out of time” to catch up in the artificial intelligence race against China.