WASHINGTON: India is among the select few countries which are developing hypersonic weapons, an independent Congressional report has said, amidst a media report which claimed that China recently tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile which circled the globe before missing its target, demonstrating an advanced space capability that caught US intelligence by surprise. The independent Congressional Research Service (CRS), in a report this week, said although the US, Russia and China possess the most advanced hypersonic weapons programmes, a number of other countries, including Australia, India, France, Germany and Japan, are also developing hypersonic weapons technology. While Australia has collaborated with the United States , India has collaborated with Russia on this, the CRS said in its report. India has collaborated with Russia on the development of BrahMos II, a Mach 7 hypersonic cruise missile, it said. “Reportedly, India is also developing an indigenous, dual-capable hypersonic cruise missile as part of its Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle programme and successfully tested a Mach 6 scramjet in June 2019 and September 2020,” the CRS said. India operates approximately 12 hypersonic wind tunnels and is capable of testing speeds of up to Mach 13, said the Congressional report which is prepared by independent subject area experts for members of the US Congress. Earlier, The Financial Times reported that China has tested hypersonic missiles. However, China denied it, saying it tested a hypersonic “vehicle” and not a nuclear-capable hypersonic“missile”. According to CRS, since 2007, the US has collaborated with Australia on the Hypersonic International Flight Research Experimentation (HIFiRE) programme to develop hypersonic technologies. The most recent HIFiRE test, conducted in July 2017, explored the flight dynamics of a Mach 8 hypersonic glide vehicle, while previous tests explored scramjet engine technologies, it said. Like India, France has also collaborated and contracted with Russia on the development of hypersonic technology. Japan is developing the Hypersonic Cruise Missile and the Hyper Velocity Gliding Projectile, it said. According to the CRS, unlike programmes in China and Russia, the US hypersonic weapons are to be conventionally armed.

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