Red Dragon Tests New Ballistic Missile ‘DF-17’


Beijing: China named as the land of Red Dragon tested a new missile that incorporates a hyper-sonic weapon system. The weapon, known as the Dong Feng (“East Wind”) -17, or DF-17 for short, is designed to confound existing air defenses.

Intended to become an operational weapons system, the DF-17 is likely the first in a new generation of hyper sonic weapons under development by the Chinese military powers.

China carried out the first flight-tests of a new kind of ballistic missile with a hyper-sonic glide vehicle (HGV) in November, The Diplomat has learned. According to a U.S. government source who described recent intelligence assessments on the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) on the condition of anonymity, China recently conducted two tests of a new missile known as the DF-17.

The first test took place on November 1 and the second test took place on November 15. The November 1 test was the first Chinese ballistic missile test to take place after the conclusion of the first plenum of the Communist Party of China’s 19th Party Congress in October.

During the November 1 test flight, which took place from the Jiuquan Space Launcher Center in Inner Mongolia, the missile’s payload flew to a range of approximately 1,400 kilometers with the HGV flying at a depressed altitude of around 60 kilometers following the completion of the DF-17’s ballistic and reentry phases.

Parts of the U.S. intelligence community assess that the DF-17 is a medium-range system, with a range capability between 1,800 and 2,500 kilometers. The missile is expected to be capable of delivering both nuclear and conventional payloads and may be capable of being configured to deliver a maneuverable reentry vehicle instead of an HGV.

Outside these missiles, China has conducted seven known tests of experimental hypersonic glide vehicles. These tests took place between 2014 and 2016. Tests of the DF-17—the first missile designed for the operational deployment of an HGV with the PLARF—followed the first-ever appearance of a physical hypersonic glider test object in Chinese state media in October.