Chinese hypersonic missile capabilities discussed by Nikolai Sokov
The Dong Feng 17 or DF-17, which is launched from land, can reach speeds of 7,680mph (ten times the speed of sound), and has a range of up to 1,600 miles. Wu Qian, a spokesman for China’s defence ministry, said Beijing had commissioned both the D17 and the DF-26, an intermediate range ballistic missile with a range of more than 3,000 miles, “in large numbers”.
China announced the DF-17 two years ago with a four-minute clip of what it called the “blindingly fast and unstoppable” missile capable of evading all existing anti-missile shields.
The DF-17, which includes a hypersonic glide means, can be fitted with a nuclear warhead.
Additionally, China, led by President Xi Jinping, is also working on another missile, the DF-27, which will have a range up to 5,000 miles, potentially putting the US State of Hawaii within range.
China’s Xi Jinping is building an arsenal of hypersonic missiles
US President Joe Biden
Military analyst Malcolm Davis, writing for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said the DF-17 had been highlighted in the US Department of Defense’s 2021 China military strength report, published earlier this year.
Mr Davis said: “China’s expanding nuclear arsenal and the growing concern that Beijing is moving towards a set afloat-on-warning posture, together with the possible for a sub-strategic and tactical capacity, are raising questions about whether it is also shifting from its traditional ‘no first use’ posture.
“The report notes that China’s no-first-use policy is declaratory and indicates that ‘there is some ambiguity about conditions where it would no longer apply’.
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DF-17 missiles during a Chinese military parade in 2019
“It states, ‘The PRC’s without of transparency regarding the scope and extent of its nuclear modernisation program … raises questions regarding its future intent as it fields larger, more capable nuclear forces.’”
Mr Davis additional: “These developments matter in terms of timing, not just in relation to an expected crisis over Taiwan, but also because the Biden administration is considering the possibility of adopting a no-first-use or ‘only purpose’ declaration as part of its 2022 nuclear posture review.
“The administration should consider the implications of doing so for allies concerned about US leadership and for deterrence more broadly.
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DF-17 missiles can travel at ten times the speed of sound
DF-17s can be equipped with nuclear warheads
“China is moving to rapidly break out of its traditional minimum deterrence posture and could be planning to use its nuclear forces as a protect behind which it would feel free to use traditional forces in a future crisis.”
The latest revelations come at a time of escalating tensions over both Taiwan and the South China Sea, both of which China claims sovereignty over.
One expert suggested Beijing was building mock-up targets of US aircraft carriers in order to help troops aim for real-life operations.
China’s military strength in numbers
Speaking to the Sun, Sam Armstrong, of the Henry Jackson Society, said: “These are working models that are ready to be deployed as a training exercise for a real-life operation against western forces.
“You don’t build a training form of an aircraft carrier unless you’re planning to run a bombing raid on an aircraft carrier.”
Pictures have suggested China has built missile targets in the desert based on at the minimum two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers and a US carrier.
Collin Koh, a research fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, additional: “I don’t think the desert targets are going to be the final stage. It’s meant for further refinement.”
The speed of the D-17 method it can evade missile defence systems
When questioned earlier this month, Wang Wenbin, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, denied all knowledge, saying: “I’m not aware of the situation you mentioned.”
Separately, the Chinese foreign ministry said it had lodged stern representations with the United States over the visit of five US politicians to Taiwan this week.
During his regular Friday media briefing, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman at the foreign ministry, said: “We advise some people in the United States not to play the Taiwan card, because it’s a bad card, and a losing hand.”
The United States should to comply with the one China policy and closest stop official exchanges with Taiwan in any form, and clear any obstacles for Sino-US relations in improvement, Zhao said.
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