The aircraft, or waverider, known as the Starry Sky-2, was tested for the first time on Friday.
It was released in the air after about 10 minutes in Northwest China, reaching 30 kilometers in altitude at a top speed of Mach 6 — six times the speed of sound, according to the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA).
The aircraft flew independently while performing several turns and other movements, and finally landed in a designated area.
The contractor said the test was a “complete success.”
“The Starry Sky-2 flight test project was strongly innovative and technically difficult, confronting a number of cutting-edge international technical challenges,” CAAA said.
“The flight tester is controllable, and the scientific data is valid. The complete recovery of the rocket marks the successful completion of the Star-2 flight test, marking the feat of ‘the first Chinese waverider,’” the contractor explained.
It also posted photos of the test launch on the social media platform WeChat.
Additional pressure on US
Speaking to the Chinese newspaper Global Times, military expert Song Zhongping said that the test was a “breakthrough.”
“The test showed that China is advancing shoulder-to-shoulder with the US and Russia,” he said, adding that the aircraft could carry both conventional and nuclear weapons.
Song said the aircraft challenged current anti-missile defense systems designed to protect against slower cruise and ballistic missiles.
Though hypersonic technologies could transform the nature of warfare, they may also be adapted to a civilian role, including in industrial transport, according to Song.