WU-14 DF-2F missile China hypersonic
China's hypersonic DF-2F missile, capable of speeds of 7,000 mphWikipedia/Daniel Toschläger

China has conducted a successful test flight of its hypersonic DF-2F missile, capable of speeds of up to 7,000 mph (11,000 kph) according to sources within the US Pentagon. If confirmed this would be the seventh successful flight of the DF-2F, and comes just days after Russia successfully flew its own hypersonic test missile.

The test missile was tracked by US satellites being launched from the Chinese site at Wuzhai and skipped along the top of the earth's atmosphere at several thousand miles per hour before reaching its target in the west of the country. The test took place on Friday (22 April) and follows other tests conducted in 2014 and 2015.

There are fears within the Pentagon that China might be perfecting an even quicker missile, the DF-ZF (also known as WU-14), which can reach speeds of 11,000 kph - making it too fast for any anti missile systems to deal with. The delivery system could enable China to reach any point in the world with a nuclear missile in under one hour.

Russian test

On Tuesday 26 April, Russia tested its own hypersonic missile from a base in Orenburg near the Kazakhstan border. The missile was reported by Russian state media to be the RS-18A strategic ballistic missile (UR-100N, NATO designation SS-19 Stiletto.

The Russian Navy has claimed it will have a series of hypersonic missiles ready to use by 2017. The missiles would have a relatively short range of 400 miles but could be used to knock out enemy ships without warning.

Fearing it could be left behind in the global arms race by its rivals Russia and China the US has also announced an increase in hypersonic missile research. According to the Washington Free Beacon the US is increasing hypersonic spending by 50% although the US is also investing in research into robotics, laser weapons and other hi-tech weaponry.