China’s DF-17 hypersonic missile has presumably received a stealth upgrade, Chinese state-run Global Times reported.
According to experts, cited by the outlet, the stealth upgrade can improve the weapon’s capability to disguise itself from hostile reconnaissance and protect itself from complicated battlefield environments.
A previously unknown type of transporter erector launcher (TEL) of a missile was spotted by military observers in a video celebrating the fifth founding anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Rocket Force, was released on 81.cn, the website of the PLA.
The TEL uses an integrated cover and encloses the missile within the camouflaged transporter as it runs on desert terrain, according to the video.
The video did not specify the designation of the missile, Shanghai-based news website eastday.com identified it in a Saturday report as an upgraded version of the DF-17 hypersonic missile.
According to the outlet, this is the “complete form” of the DF-17 hypersonic missile.
When the missile made its public debut at the National Day military parade in 2019, the DF-17 did not have the cover and exposed the whole missile on the back of the TEL.
A separate report by China Central Television (CCTV) on December 31st said that a new type of missile TEL recently received additional equipment so it can fully hide the missile within its cabin.
The CCTV report also did not identify the designation of the missile, nor did it give a glimpse of the missile, but said the missile made its debut at the 2019 National Day military parade.
This could be additional evidence that the missile is the DF-17, Global Times reported.
The first PLA Rocket Force missile brigade equipped with this type of missile recently conducted a fire assault exercise, the CCTV report said, noting that this brigade is now ready for combat.
Reportedly equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle as its warhead, the DF-17 is a short to medium-range missile against which the no current missile defense system can intercept.
With Russia’s Zircon, Kinzhal and Avangard, America’s ARRW, and India’s HSTDV and Shaurya, China has been making rapid strides in the field as well.
The US and India are the most behind in terms of the technology.
The DF-17 is a solid-fueled medium-range ballistic missile mounted on the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle. The missile is capable of carrying both conventional or non-conventional warheads with ranges up to 2,000 kilometers and more, achieving speeds of Mach 5.
Interestingly, Mach 5 is the threshold to determine if an object is flying at hypersonic or supersonic speeds. In October, it was reported that the missile was deployed at China’s Fujian and Zhejiang which is right across Taiwan, amid Beijing’s tensions with the island nations.
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