On Monday, in celebration of 70 years of communist rule, China paraded the first deployable Hypersonic Weapon System that is immune from any defensive system known to mankind. China leads the world in developing, proving and deploying these indefensible offensive missile systems that can be fitted with nuclear warheads and can strike with invulnerability from this specific system – Taiwan and U.S. bases in South Korea, Japan and Guam as well as U.S. Aircraft Carrier Battle Groups operating within the first and second island chains.
The Chinese Dong Feng-17 (DF-17) was shown on multiple transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles and can also be delivered by aircraft, ship, and underwater by submarine, not only to deter and strike within the Asia Pacific Region but can provide a strategic capability to launch and strike with mobile platforms from regional distances into the United States. The Chinese Hypersonic DF-17 is a first of its kind and has preempted the strategic competition from the United States and Russia, who are pursuing vigorously a hypersonic system of their own and a defensive system to defeat it. Major international powers in the world will also begin to pursue this capability. The United States is developing its own common hypersonic vehicle that will be capable of launch from U.S. Navy submarines, U.S. Army land-based TELs that could be deployed on the U.S. territory in Guam & Alaska, and launched off U.S. Air Force air platforms deployed around the world.
China has modernized and enhanced its nuclear strategic capability to validate a world superpower status and to lead its way unencumbered to its “one belt one road policy” of Chinese dominance.
The Chinese DF-17 defies ballistic trajectories by skipping to increase its speed and maneuvering at will during the majority of its flight time, operating in lower space and the upper atmosphere, and making it unpredictable in flight with speeds over 20 times the speed of sound. The only predictability is its boost phase with its heat signatures picked up by U.S. satellites from where, when and what platforms it’s launched from. The United States nor any country in the world has space-based discriminating sensors that can locate and track a hypersonic glide vehicle from very long distances to establish battle space to engage this target. This is by far the most critical and vital element of creating an anti-hypersonic defensive system. A deployed constellation of hundreds of discrimination sensors in Low Earth Orbit with global persistence will be able to track the flight area and define the hypersonic glide vehicle is the primary objective. Once space-based discriminating sensors are established to provide the battle space during its glide phase, it then goes to developing effectors/interceptors to break the highly sensitive thermal shield and/or disrupt its speed envelope in this glide phase. The upcoming evolution of systems being developed to include the command & control to defeat and negate the Chinese hypersonic glide vehicle system will also greatly enhance strategic/regional ballistic missile defense and the defense of U.S. space satellites.
Ramifications for the United States to build a system to defeat and negate the Chinese proliferation of its DF-17, along with its modernization of this system is the creation of the Space Force, the Space Combatant Command, and the Space Development Agency. These U.S. space entities, along with the Missile Defense Agency (MDA), will be and are tasked with pursuing, developing, testing, deploying, and operating an anti-hypersonic defensive system.
We are not first in this strategic capability and we must close the gap and exceed the gap fast to keep strategic stability.