A hypersonic glider is boosted into the exoatmosphere by a ballistic missile, then glides in a non ballistic trajectory. Compared to ballistic warheads, a hypersonic glider's warhead has longer range and a more depressed, complicated flight path that is more survivable against current missile defenses. It is a significant development for both Chinese aviation and the balance of power in the region.
What is also notable about the test is how it fits within a broader pattern of research available to be followed through open sources, rather than just Pentagon insiders. Examining the historic trend in the number of published Chinese scientific literature on hypersonic gliders provides a general direction of the progress in that technology, as well as patterns to look for in other related Chinese research areas like hypersonic scramjet engines, spy satellite optics, and laser weapons.