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DF-17

Ballistic missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle

DF-17 ballistic missile

The new China's hypersonic glide vehicle can penetrate advanced air defense systems

 
 
Country of origin China
Entered service 2019
Crew ~ 5 men
Dimensions and weight
Weight ?
Length ?
Width ?
Height ?
Missile
Missile length ~ 11 m
Missile diameter ?
Missile weight ~ 15 t
Glide vehicle weight ?
Warhead type nuclear or conventional
Range of fire 2 000 ~ 3000 km
CEP ~ 30 m
Mobility
Engine diesel
Engine power 500 ~ 600 hp
Maximum road speed ~ 70 km/h
Range ~ 650 km
Maneuverability
Gradient 40%
Side slope 20%
Vertical step ~ 0.4 m
Trench ~ 2.5 m
Fording ~ 1.2 m

 

   The DF-17 missile with a hypersonic glide vehicle was first publicly revealed in 2019. This weapon was specially designed to penetrate sophisticated air defense systems. Such weapon is harder to intercept due to its extreme speed and maneuverability. First flight tests of China's hypersonic glide vehicle were conducted in 2014. First test of the DF-17 ballistic missile were conducted in 2017. The DF-17 was declared operational in 2019.

   The concept of hypersonic glide vehicles is not new. Russia is currently producing a broadly similar Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle, that can be carried by ballistic missiles. It was declared operational in 2019. USA and India are also developing hypersonic glide vehicles that can overcome advanced air defense systems. The first US production systems could appear only in 2023. So fielding of such an advanced weapon indicates high level of resources China is devoting towards its offensive capabilities.

   However some sources report that China rushed and deployed an unrefined weapon. So far the new China's hypersonic glide vehicle could be an unreliable weapon. Despite China's and Russia's progress in fielding such weapons United States is leading in terms of hypersonic weapons research.

   This DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle was previously designated by Pentagon as the WU-14. It can deliver both conventional or nuclear payloads. It is launched on top of the missile, but unlike a regular warhead that follows a predictable path, the Avangard travels at hypersonic speed and can make sharp maneuvers. Once the glide vehicle separates from the missile it can reach speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10 (6 173-12 360 km/h). Due to its extreme speed and maneuverability the glide vehicle is much harder to intercept than regular re-entry vehicles. Furthermore gliding extends its range. Furthermore it can approach a target on an unpredictable ballistic trajectory. If initial attack fails it can even reengage the target. Alternatively the glide vehicle can descend to a very low altitude just before reaching its target. This makes it hard to detect and intercept and further improves resistance to air defense systems. Conventional interceptor missiles have difficulty against maneuvering targets traveling faster than Mach 5 (6 173 km/h). So combination of extreme speed and maneuverability allows to overcome even advanced air defense and missile defense systems.

   The DF-17 with the glide vehicle has a maximum range of around 2 000-3 000 km. Such range allows to reach targets in South Korea, Japan and Russia. This weapon can reportedly target warships. This threatens US forces across Western Pacific.

   It is also possible that the DF-17 ballistic missile can be equipped with a more conventional re-entry vehicle instead of the hypersonic glide vehicle.

   The DF-17 ballistic missile is based on a special wheeled chassis with 10x10 configuration. This vehicle can travel over difficult terrain, though normally it is used on hard surface roads.

 

 

DF-17 ballistic missile

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DF-17 ballistic missile

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DF-17 ballistic missile

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DF-17 ballistic missile

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DF-17 ballistic missile

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