China’s advanced DF-17 hypersonic missile likely to have been part of recent military drill

Catherine Wong
·2-min read

China’s military has carried out training that may have involved its most advanced hypersonic missile, the DF-17, which analysts say is capable of striking US bases in the region.

Footage aired on Chinese state television last week shows a new and unidentified type of missile vehicle being used to transport a weapon in a recent assault exercise conducted by a People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force missile brigade.

Military analysts said the missile being transported in the footage was likely to be the DF-17.

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The hypersonic missile drew attention when it made its debut in October 2019 at a huge military parade marking the 70th anniversary of Communist Party rule in China.

In the report on state broadcaster CCTV, footage shows the brigade conducting the assault exercise at night, in an undisclosed location.

Wang Chunhong, an officer in charge of training in the brigade, told the broadcaster that the new weapon system reduced the time needed to launch a missile.

“This will greatly increase our capability in adapting to future warfare,” Wang said.

Is China’s DF-17 hypersonic missile a serious threat to the United States?

In a separate video posted on the Chinese military’s official website, 81.cn, on Saturday, the missile is seen from an aerial view that shows a cover enclosing the missile launcher inside the transporter.

“That [DF-17] cover was removed for the military parade [in 2019] but it should be intact for battle to keep it at the right temperature and to protect the missile from environmental damage,” said Yue Gang, a retired PLA colonel and military commentator. “It’s also camouflage to protect the missile from being detected.”

The DF-17 is believed to be the world’s first active hypersonic glide vehicle weapon, and powerful enough to penetrate US missile shields in the region. With a maximum range of 2,500km (1,550 miles), it could reach US military bases in Yokosuka, Japan and South Korea from China.

The South China Morning Post reported earlier that China has deployed the missile to the southeastern coastal provinces of Fujian and Guangdong, with analysts saying the PLA was stepping up preparations for a possible invasion of Taiwan.

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