The Chinese Mach 5 DF-17 hypersonic missile: a threat to the US Navy?

DF-17: What you need to know – When it comes to conventional carrier-killing missiles that could be launched from China, the US Navy is protected. The carrier air escorts of a battle group would have the AEGIS battle system to spot incoming bogeys and launch missile interceptors for self-defense. The aircraft carriers themselves are also protected by anti-missile interceptors. But what about enemy hypersonic MACH 5-plus missiles? The Chinese have a mobile missile launcher that can fire a missile with a hypersonic hover vehicle that could evade US defenses. Called on DF-17China said it could hit a “moving target”.

Taiwan’s latest crisis makes it a dangerous capability

The hypersonic DF-17 is the latest Chinese marvel, according to state media, and will be part of a growing arsenal to threaten its neighbors. that of Beijing recent military live shot the response in Taiwan included practice missile launches fired near the island as well as a mock blockade.

Video appears to show a practice launch

The first one video release of DF-17 launch was shown on August 1. It was to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the People’s Liberation Army. The DF-17 medium-range road mobile launcher was introduced in 2019 during a military parade and is now deployed with Chinese rocket forces. It is believed to be capable of firing a missile carrying the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle – China’s first operational hypersonic weapon. The DF-ZF can be conventional or nuclear. It is capable of moving at speeds of MACH 5 to MACH 10 and being maneuverable in flight in a short time to prevent it from being intercepted. His maximum range is 1,118 miles.

Aircraft carriers could be in the crosshairs

Beijing propaganda outlets were recently singing about the ability destroy “foreign” aircraft carriers with the hypersonic glide vehicle. State media also warned against interference by naval powers like the United States in a “reunification by force” operation, hinting at a Chinese-executed attack on Taiwan.

Ultra-high-speed handling is the awe

China’s regular anti-ship ballistic missiles would have a more predictable trajectory, allowing AEGIS to track and shoot them down unless fired in a multi-missile salvo, but the hypersonic pattern is different.

Tom Callender, who was previously a naval warfare analyst at Heritage Foundationsay it National Defense Industrial Association that hypersonics poses a problem for American defences. “The big difference between a traditional ballistic missile and these hypersonic gliders is the trajectory and the ability to maneuver,” he said.

“You can’t necessarily predict from his initial boost where he’s going,” he added. “In theory, you … can maneuver out of its initial ballistic trajectory potentially several hundred miles, [and come in] in a different way than defenders expect.

Shoots through layers of defense

Hypersonics can also fly between US defenses configured for low-altitude cruise missiles and higher-altitude ballistic missiles.

DF-17. Image credit: Creative Commons.

What can Congress and the Pentagon do?

Congress is concerned about hypersonic weapons that can threaten warships. In June, the House Armed Services Committee inserted stipulations in National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 23 which obliges the navy to perform a gap analysis then create alternatives to defend against the hypersonics deployed by China and Russia. The committee asked the Pentagon to assess whether the Navy can defend against directed-energy hypersonics, microwave systems, cyber and “any other capability.”

Is it too little too late?

Studies take time and it is not clear whether these asymmetric concepts would be developed quickly enough to meet the Chinese hypersonic threat. The Navy may have to rely on its current missile defenses to counter a potential launch if the worst happens against China in East Asia. Time is running out to develop systems that would ensure that rogue states do not attack a US aircraft carrier with hypersonics in a future red alert confrontation.

Now as 1945 Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. EastwoodPhD, is the author of Humans, Machines and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an emerging threat expert and former US Army infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.

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