Quick Facts

Chinese DF-ZF
Role and Mobility Hypersonic Glide Vehicle
Designer/Production 10th Research Institute, China Aerospace Science Industry Corporation (CASIC)
Range Dependent on Missile Launched With
Warhead Type and Weight Conventional and Nuclear; N/A
MIRV and Yield Dependent on Missile Launched With
Guidance System/Accuracy N/A; N/A
Stages/Propellant Single or Two-Stage; Solid
IOC/Retirement Expected 2020; N/A
Status/Number of Units In-Development

Overview

The DF-ZF, previously known as the WU-14 is a hypersonic glide vehicle (HGV) under development for use by the People’s Liberation Army Rocket Forces (PLARF).[i]Though little is known about the HGV, it is alleged that it can fly at speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10 and is capable of “extreme maneuvers” to evade defenses.[ii]

The PLARF have conducted multiple tests of the DF-ZF since its first test in 2014, including successful tests of the DF-17, a medium-range ballistic missile designed specifically to operate with the HGV.[iii]Other ballistic missiles are expected to be capable of operating with the HGV including the short-range DF-11 and DF-15, and the medium-range DF-21.[iv]

The DF-ZF hypersonic glide vehicle is expected to enter into service sometime in 2020 along with the DF-17, the main missile that the HGV is expected to operate with.[v]


Strategic Implications

The DF-ZF will bring a hypersonic capability to the PLARF. Missiles carrying the DF-ZF will have shorter flight times and be capable of performing evasive maneuvers at hypersonic speeds, which will complicate the ability of current missile defenses to intercept it. The current missiles believed to be capable of carrying the HGV are short- and medium-ranged but could strike targets in South Korea and Japan, including U.S. carriers and bases in the region. It is also capable of carrying nuclear payloads as well as conventional.


References

[i]http://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/15828/china-shows-off-hypersonic-vehicle-test-model-after-us-navy-weapon-test

[ii]https://thediplomat.com/2016/04/china-tests-new-weapon-capable-of-breaching-u-s-missile-defense-systems/

[iii]https://thediplomat.com/2017/12/introducing-the-df-17-chinas-newly-tested-ballistic-missile-armed-with-a-hypersonic-glide-vehicle/

[iv]https://jamestown.org/program/updated-chinese-hypersonic-weapons-development/

[v]https://thediplomat.com/2016/04/china-tests-new-weapon-capable-of-breaching-u-s-missile-defense-systems/

Missile Threat and Proliferation

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