China Released Footage of DF-17 Hypersonic Weapon – As the question was pondered over the weekend: will she or won’t she – as in whether Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) would make a visit to the self-governing island of Taiwan, the People’s Republic of China prepared for its Army Day celebrations to mark the 95th founding of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
That included the release of a video highlighting the launch of a Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) hypersonic missile, the state-run Global Times reported.
The existence of the medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) system, which is equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), was first confirmed in 2014. The road-mobile platform first entered service in 2019, and it has a range of 1,800 to 2,500 km, and a speed of Mach 5 to 10. It is capable of carrying a conventional or nuclear payload.
The video, titled “The capabilities of the Chinese troops shown in 81 seconds,” and which aired on state broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Saturday in advance of Monday’s Army Day celebrations, featured a brief sequence of a live-fire launch of a missile from a transporter erector launcher on a highway in a desert. Military experts were quick to suggest the weapon resembled the DF-17 hypersonic missile, which was first publicly displayed at the National Day military parade on October 1, 2019, in Beijing.
Part of that clip has since been posted to social media. @louischeung_hk, a self-professed “military fan” who focuses on China, shared the launch sequence via a tweet with the caption, “First DF-17 launch video. DF-17 is a medium-range missile system equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle.(speed: Mach 5-10; range:1,800-2,500 km).”
First DF-17 launch video. DF-17 is a medium-range missile system equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle.(speed: Mach 5-10; range:1,800-2,500 km) pic.twitter.com/yUEnkiVEbj
— 彩云香江 (@louischeung_hk) July 31, 2022
If the military experts are correct, this would indeed be the first time that the People’s Republic of China has publicly released footage of a launch of a DF-17 missile. It also provides a hint of the weapon’s capabilities, as a launch from a highway in a remote part of China would serve to demonstrate that the new-type platform doesn’t require a preset launch position. Instead, the missile could be launched independently at any time and more importantly any place.
Song Zhongping, a Chinese military expert and TV commentator, told the Global Times on Sunday that those capabilities could make it a very agile and flexible weapon. Moreover, it could be difficult to counter, as an adversary would have a hard time locating the road-mobile launder and hitting it before a missile was fired.
China Sending a Message
Many observers have suggested that the timing of the video coincided with the news that Speaker Pelosi was still considering a visit to Taiwan, which the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) maintains is a breakaway province that will be brought back to mainland control and by force if necessary.
However, while the Nationalist forces retreated to the island at the end of the Chinese Civil War in 1949, it should be noted that at no point in the history of the PRC has it ever actually ruled or maintained any control over Taiwan.
Just last week, the United States Navy deployed the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan back to the South China Sea after a port call to Singapore. Thus the message from Beijing really couldn’t be much clearer – China has an “aircraft carrier killer” missile in its arsenal and could be ready to use it.
A Senior Editor for 1945, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer who has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers and websites. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.