Russian President Vladimir Putin has dismissed as “propaganda” suggestions that China’s recent testing of a hypersonic military drone could pose a potential threat to U.S. aircraft carriers stationed in the Western Pacific.
“What I heard was completely wrong,” Putin said after meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the DPA news agency reported. “There is no evidence at all that the Chinese have designs on deploying such missiles. I would even call it propaganda.”
China has been testing missiles in its military arsenal that are able to deliver nuclear warheads to targets across the Pacific Ocean. But such a development would most likely take decades to deploy and could pose little immediate threat to U.S. aircraft carriers.
“China has an advanced nuclear submarine, but they don’t have any ships that could carry tactical nukes (that could take off from the water),” Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear and defense expert at the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, told FoxNews.com last month. “So, they’d still have to get an aircraft carrier to do it.”
Lewis also said China’s missile test was relatively minor and that he “didn’t think they were trying to do it.”
In recent years, both countries have made progress on developing hypersonic weapons. Last November, China successfully launched a test of the Hs-26 Bear-H, the country’s first-ever tactical hypersonic vehicle.
Last year, China also conducted a test flight of a hypersonic ballistic missile and in April, the country successfully tested a “Lynx” drone with hypersonic capabilities.
Russia has also worked on hypersonic weapons, with President Putin himself declaring that such programs pose an immediate threat to the United States in 2015.
The drones that China tested last month reportedly contain more than 100 kilotons of nuclear weapons “give or take a few kilotons,” Lewis said. “That’s by far the biggest of any other country,” he added.
Armed with nuclear missiles, such drones could travel at almost the speed of sound before being in turn fired toward their target, Lewis said. The weapons could effectively be a “counter-strike cruise missile”, keeping offensive capabilities separate from defensive ones, he said.
Russia and China are rivals to the United States and are also key economic and military partners in the Asian region. U.S. officials have questioned the reliability of the Asian economic and trade blocks, including the South China Sea, with Beijing reportedly holding sway over its neighbors.
— Information from Reuters was used in this report.