In a new revelation by a Taiwanese news agency, the Chinese PLA has deployed its latest hypersonic cruise missile “DF-17” near the coastline aimed at Taiwan, allegedly in preparation of an invasion.
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“On Sunday (Oct. 18), the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba Group, cited an anonymous military source as saying that China’s most advanced hypersonic missile, the DF-17, is being deployed to People’s Liberation Army (PLA) bases in the provinces of Fujian and Zhejiang which is right across Taiwan” the agency reported.
The DF-17s are purportedly replacing the aging DF-11 and DF-15 short-range cruise missiles which were deployed at the southeast region for many decades.
Being a hypersonic cruise missile, China claims that its DF-17 can outgun any existing air defence systems, and are immune to interception from the Island’s Patriot (PAC-3) surface-to-air missile batteries- especially due to the rapid maneuvering capability of the missile.
China has vowed to invade Taiwan and capture the island by force and considers it as its integral part under the “One China Policy”, however it exercises no jurisdiction over it and the small nation is trying hard to announce formal independence.
Accordion to reports, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) now has 20 air force brigades along its coast. In addition, the People’s Liberation Army Navy-Marine Corps (PLANMC) now has 10 to 13 brigades along China’s southeast coast, with the country’s Chairman Xi Jinping only last week telling the marines to “prepare for war.”
While this ‘war preparation’ announcement was aimed at which country is not known, considering China’s regional disputes with virtually all of its neighbours, the prospect of having a two-front war could not be ruled out for PRC. One with India and other with Taiwan – both backed by the United States and the entente.
The recent few years in weapons development have been revolving around the ‘new-generation’ hypersonic missiles, with various countries trying their best to prove and develop the capability.
With Russia’s Zircon, Kinzhal and Avangard, America’s ARRW, and India’s HSTDV and Shaurya, China has been making rapid strides into the field.
The DF-17 is a solid-fueled medium-range ballistic missile which mounts on the DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle. The missile is capable of carrying both conventional or non-conventional warheads to ranges of more than 2,000 kilometers, achieving speeds of Mach 5.
Interestingly, Mach 5 is the bordering ‘benchmark’ factor to determine if an object is flying at hypersonic or supersonic speeds. Whichever be the case, the missile could prove to be lethal for Taiwanese assets in the region, making them highly vulnerable and unprotected towards this new generation missile.