India Tests BRAHMOS Anti-ship Missile, China Deploys DF-17 Hypersonic Projectile

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The ship-launched version of India’s supersonic cruise missile, BRAHMOS, was test fired on 18 October 2020, a day on which information leaked that China had deployed its DF-17 hypersonic missile as part of its efforts to subjugate Taiwan.

The BRAHMOS test firing was conducted from Indian Navy’s indigenously-built stealth destroyer INS Chennai, hitting a target in the Arabian Sea. “The missile hit the target successfully with pin-point accuracy after performing high-level and extremely complex manoeuvres,” a BRAHMOS Aerospace release said.

“BRAHMOS as prime strike weapon will ensure the warship’s invincibility by engaging naval surface targets at long ranges, thus making the destroyer another lethal platform of Indian Navy. Dr. Sudhir K Mishra, DG, BrahMos, DRDO and CEO & MD of BrahMos Aerospace, said.

The warship can carry 16 BRAHMOS missiles in two 8-cell vertical launch systems, besides other sophisticated weapons and sensors. BRAHMOS missile having a top speed of Mach 2.8, a very low-cruise altitude of 10 meters at terminal phase and impeccable accuracy, has turned the warship one of the deadliest platforms of the Indian naval fleet, the release said.

The People’s Liberation Army has been upgrading its missile bases, and one Beijing-based military source quoted by the South China Morning Post said it has deployed its most advanced hypersonic missile the DF-17 in South East Chinese coast aimed at Taiwan.

“The DF-17 hypersonic missile will gradually replace the old DF-11s and DF-15s that were deployed in the southeast region for decades,” the source, who requested anonymity, because of the sensitivity of the topic. “The new missile has a longer range and is able to hit targets more accurately.”

Chinese media reports said that the DF-17, which is claimed to have a maximum range of 2,500km (1,550 miles), made its first public appearance on October 1 2019 National Day parade. The missile  can also be used to hit targets at shorter ranges be deployed from ships indicating that there could be more than two versions.

The DF-17 as shown during the National Day parade appears to be hypersonic glide body going by its shape. It is possible that a shorter  range version exists to hit ships and other nearer targets. Besides, a Beijing-based military expert Wei Dongxu told the Global Times on Sunday the DF-17s are “highly mobile.” Hypersonic glide body weapons are launched from fixed platform rocket  launchers.

Going by  Wei Dongxu comments regarding the DF-17s mobility, the missile could either be a ship-launched or land vehicle based. In which case it may have a shorter range than the claimed 2500 km.

Chinese media has earlier written about another missile, the DF-21D, calling it “the world’s first anti-ship ballistic missile,” and “aircraft carrier-killer” in response to drills by the US Navy’s aircraft carrier groups in the disputed South China Sea.