China deploys DF-17 hypersonic missiles that could potentially target Taiwan - M5 Dergi
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China deploys DF-17 hypersonic missiles that could potentially target Taiwan

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DF-17 hypersonic missiles could possibly evade US-made air-defense systems

According to a report by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) is deploying medium-range Dongfeng 17 (DF-17) hypersonic missiles in southeastern China that could potentially target Taiwan and evade U.S.-built air defense systems.

On Sunday (July 23), the South China Morning Post citied that Decker Eveleth, a researcher at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, had published a report titled “People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force Order of Battle 2023” on July 3. The report said the PLARF has upgraded its short-range missiles in China’s southeastern provinces with medium-range DF-17 missiles.

Kapil Kajal, a land warfare reporter at defense intelligence firm Janes Asia-Pacific, was cited by the newspaper as saying the deployment of these new missiles at the 61st base, located in Yong’an, Fujian Province, shows the PLA is seeking to “acquire the capability to strike foreign military bases and fleets in the Western Pacific.” Based on U.S. intelligence, these missiles have a range of 1,800 to 2,500 km when mounted on a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) and can reach speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, enabling them to avoid detection by U.S. missile defense systems, such as THAAD, SM-3, and Patriot.

Although DF-17s have replaced some short-range missiles, there are still nearly a thousand short-range missiles pointed at Taiwan, which can reach the country within 6 to 8 minutes, according to Kajal. Short- and medium-range ballistic missiles deployed in southern and southwestern China could comprise the first wave of attacks on Taiwan, he added.

The newspaper noted that although the PLARF only became a full-service branch in 2016, it played an important role in China’s live-fire drills and a simulated attack against Taiwan in August 2022 and April 2023.

In addition to Base 61, there are DF-17s deployed at Base 62 in Puning, Guangzhou Province, and Base 65 in Tonghua, Jilin Province.

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