09 December 2022
by Akhil Kadidal
While China has said that the road-mobile DF-17 is a conventional platform, the Pentagon has determined that it may be equipped with nuclear warheads. (Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images)
China's Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV)-powered medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) has been designed to strike foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific, a US Pentagon report said.
In its 2022 China Military Power Report (CMPR), the US Department of Defense (DoD) said that the DF-17 is transforming the People Liberation Army's (PLA's) missile force. “The system, fielded in 2020, is possibly intended to replace some older short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) units,” the DoD added, citing Chinese media.
“The DF-17 passed several tests successfully and is deployed operationally. While the DF-17 is primarily a conventional platform, it may be equipped with nuclear warheads,” the Pentagon said. Citing a claim by a Chinese military expert, the Pentagon added that the “primary purpose of the DF-17” is striking bases and fleets in the Western Pacific.
The Pentagon's assessment that the missile can be used against fleets supports a 2020 claim in Chinese state media that the missile can target specific warships. Citing a military expert, the Global Times said in October 2020 that DF-17 can potentially strike slow-moving targets such as aircraft carriers.
It added that the DF-17 could also be impervious to US air-defence systems, such as the “THAAD [Terminal High Altitude Area Defense], SM-3 [Standard Missile-3], and Patriot” missile systems.
However, details of the HGV's guidance system remain unavailable.
The DF-17 has emerged as a major weapon in the PLA's arsenal. According to Janes
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China's Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV)-powered medium-range ballistic missile (...