China has reportedly carried out first series of tests of a new ballistic missile equipped with a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV), The Diplomat reports, citing a U.S. government source.
As part of recent intelligence assessments on the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF), the source said that two tests were taken place last month on a new missile dubbed DF-17. The first test took place on November 1 and the second test took place on November 15.
The DF-17, which is thought to be a medium-range system, made an impact at 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, according to the report.
HGVs begin powered flight after separating from their ballistic missile boosters, which follow a standard ballistic trajectory to give the payload vehicle sufficient altitude.
The HGV payload was specifically designed for the DF-17, the source was quoted as saying, while noting that parts of the U.S. intelligence community assess that the DF-17 is heavily based on the PLARF’s DF-16B short-range ballistic missile, which is already deployed.
“The missile is explicitly designed for operational HGV implementation and not as a test bed,” the source said, describing U.S. intelligence assessments of the DF-17. This was “the first HGV test in the world using a system intended to be fielded operationally,” the source added.
As per the report, the DF-17 is expected to reach initial operating capability around 2020.
Outside these missiles, China has conducted seven known tests of experimental hypersonic glide vehicles, between 2014 and 2016.
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