CHINA is developing a 6,000mph hypersonic nuke missile engine which is reportedly based on a design abandoned by Nasa — as it forges ahead in the arms race.

A Chinese research team has built and tested a prototype based on a radical design by an American space agency scientist more than two decades ago.

Most hypersonic aircraft have an engine at the belly.

But the potentially revolutionary Two-Stage Vehicle (TSV) X-plane was driven by two separate engines on the sides.

It was proposed by Ming Han Tang, a Chinese American who was the chief engineer of Nasa’s hypersonic programme in the late 1990s, reports South China Morning Post. 

The engines could switch to a high-speed mode and accelerate to more than five times the speed of sound.

Yet the Boeing Manta X-47C, a programme to test Tang’s design was ditched by the US government in the early 2000s because it was deemed too costly.

In today’s rapidly militarising China, however, money is no object—especially if it keeps the Communist regime ahead in the arms race.

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And, so professor Tan Huijun and his colleagues, at the Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics in the eastern province of Jiangsu have built a prototype machine based on Tang’s blueprint.

The design had attracted increasing attention because “understanding its work mechanism can provide important guidance to hypersonic plane and engine development”, Tan and colleagues said in a paper published in the Chinese peer-reviewed Journal of Propulsion Technology.

It comes as China fired a hypersonic missile around the globe in October with the US left reeling by the terrifying display of military strength.

US intelligence and military officials were reportedly left stunned after China launched a rocket in space carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.

The nuke-capable missile missed its target by about two-dozen miles when it was secretly launched in August, intelligence sources told the Financial Times.


But the chilling test has alarmed US officials and shows how China has made astonishing progress on the development of its hypersonic weapons, sources said.

A hypersonic missile travels five times faster than the speed of sound and can reach distances of up to 1,500 miles, with Russia using the technology to build cutting-edge missiles in recent years.

Asian superpowers have been scrambling to build powerful weapons in a terrifying arms race.

An Asian national security official and a Chinese security expert close to the People’s Liberation Army said the weapon in China was being developed by the country's Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics.

A number of rocket launches have been publicly announced by the China Academy of Launch Vehicle Technology – but the hypersonic missile test in August was reportedly kept secret.

US intelligence and military officials were reportedly left stunned after China launched a rocket in space carrying a hypersonic glide vehicle that circled the globe before speeding towards its target.

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