China plans to deploy midrange ballistic missiles capable of destroying U.S. aircraft carriers by 2020, according to multiple state media reports.
China Times and others reported Tuesday the Dongfeng-17 is a midrange rocket that could be used to sink an entire U.S. aircraft carrier, if it is fired eight times.
The Dongfeng-17 is equipped with a hypersonic gliding warhead that has the ability to penetrate the missile defense system of the United States and other countries, the reports say.
Chen Guangwen, a Chinese military commentator, said the Dongfeng-17 is “impossible” to be traced and intercepted by “Western missile defense.” If Dongfeng-ZF’s hypersonic warhead technology is perfected, the weapon could pose a major threat to the United States’ missile defense network, Chen said.
The Dongfeng-17 is an improvement on the Dongfeng-16B, a multistage short-range ballistic missile. Dongfeng-17 was first tested in late 2017, as the United States conducted freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea.
According to Chinese media, the Dongfeng-17 is capable of carrying nuclear warheads and striking any target in the world within an hour. But the reports also added the hypersonic boost-glide weapon cannot at the moment be used to target the United States because the re-entry vehicle glides at high speeds, unpowered, after the rocket motor detaches.
Chen said the hypersonic technology could be deployed in the Chinese military by 2020 and is far superior to the Dongfeng-21D and the Dongfeng-26, also known for their potential strike effects against aircraft carriers.
The reports on the missile come at a time when US-China relations have sunk to their lowest point in decades.