Do believe the hyper. China and Russia are sprinting out in front, the US is running to catch up, while Japan, India, Australia, France, Germany, Israel, Iran, and South Korea are all limbering up on the hypersonic missile racetrack.

These Mach fantastic missiles are back in the news after the FT broke the story that China successfully tested a nuclear-capable hypersonic missile. It entered space, orbited the globe, re-entered the atmosphere, and landed within 20 miles of its target. And it did it very, very quickly.

Basics: Hypersonic missiles can fly at between Mach 5 and Mach 20. Ordinary intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) also fly faster than the speed of sound, but they arc through space. This means seconds after a launch is detected the trajectory can be worked out, the target identified, and missile defence systems readied.