This is an important report compilation of testimony at a hearing about the military technologies China is considering or pursuing at the global technological frontier, its ability to develop innovative technologies going forward, and the implications of these efforts for the United States. It specifically examined China's development of hypersonic, maneuverable re-entry vehicle, directed energy, electromagnetic-powered, other counterspace, unmanned, and artificial intelligence-enabled systems.
Panel I: China's Hypersonic and Maneuverable Re-Entry Vehicle Programs * 1. James Acton, Co-Director of Nuclear Policy Program and Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace * 2. Andrew S. Erickson Professor of Strategy, China Maritime Studies Institute, U.S. Naval War College * 3. Mark Stokes, Executive Director, Project 2049 Institute * Panel II: China's Directed Energy and Electromagnetic Weapons Programs * 4. Timothy Grayson, President, Fortitude Mission Research, LLC * 5. David D. Chen, Independent Analyst * 6. Richard Fisher Senior Fellow, Asian Military Affairs, International Assessment and Strategy Center * Panel III: China's Counterspace, Unmanned, and Artificial Intelligence Weapons Programs * 7. Todd Harrison, Director of Defense Budget Analysis, Director of the Aerospace Security Project, And Senior Fellow, Center for Strategic and International Studies * 8. Elsa Kania, Analyst, Long Term Strategy Group * 9. Kevin Pollpeter, Research Scientist, CNA
As China has narrowed the technological gap with the U.S. over decades of investments in military modernization, it has become increasingly important to consider Beijing's efforts to develop new and potentially revolutionary weapons systems. China has reportedly conducted seven tests of its hypersonic glide vehicle since 2014. It has deployed not one, but two antiship ballistic missiles, one of which has a stated range that reaches pass the U.S. island of Guam. We hear of longstanding efforts to develop directed energy weapons and see evidence of China testing a wide range of counterspace systems that could put vulnerable U.S. space assets at risk. And we see China making major advances in areas such as unmanned systems and artificial intelligence, aided by rapid commercial progress in these sectors.
Assuming that China successfully completes the development of such a system and deploys it, a critical issue will be whether the payload is nuclear or conventional. If the ultimate decision is to integrate a nuclear warhead, it will probably reflect concerns about China's continued ability to penetrate U.S. missile defenses, including potentially more capable future defenses. In this case, the deployment of boost- glide systems would serve to preserve the status quo. By contrast, if China deploys a boost-glide system armed with a conventional warhead, then it may be seeking longer-range conventional strike capabilities including, perhaps, the ability to target the continental United States. In this case, the glider program could signal that China sees a growing role for strategic conventional weapons in its military doctrine. Of course, it is also possible that China could deploy both conventionally armed and nuclear-armed gliders.