Beijing demonstrates military might as conflict with US escalates over Taiwan
China has released footage of the launch of a hypersonic missile dubbed “aircraft carrier killers”. It happened on Army Day and against the backdrop of heightened tensions in the Taiwan Strait.
On the eve of the 95th anniversary of the founding of the People's Liberation Army of China (PLA), Beijing for the first time showed footage of the launch of an object resembling a DF-17 missile, which experts say showed the flexibility of a “carrier killer” hypersonic weapon that is nearly impossible to intercept. This comes at a time when tensions across the Taiwan Strait are rising amid a possible visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to the island of Taiwan, according to the Chinese edition of the Global Times.
State broadcaster China Central Television on Saturday released a video under titled “The Capabilities of Chinese Troops Shown in 81 Seconds”, dedicated to China's Army Day, which is celebrated on August 1.
A scene in the video showing the live launch of the missile from a transport-mounting launcher on a desert highway drew particular attention from military observers, who said the missile resembled the DF-17 hypersonic missile on display at the October 1st National Day military parade. 2019 in Beijing.
If the missile shown in the video is indeed a DF-17, according to observers, this is the first time that China has publicly released footage of its live launch.
The desert highway launch capability has demonstrated that launching a new type of missile does not require a predetermined launch position, Chinese military expert and TV commentator Song Zhongping told the Global Times on Sunday.
According to the expert, the rocket can be launched independently at any time and in any place, which makes this weapon very maneuverable. This also means that it will be difficult for an adversary to detect this mobile missile and hit it before launch, analysts say. According to them, since the DF-17 uses a hypersonic glider as its warhead, which flies at high speed along an unpredictable trajectory, it is almost impossible to intercept it with modern missile defense systems.
The DF-17 will play a vital role in protecting China's territorial integrity as regions including the South China Sea, the Taiwan Strait and Northeast Asia are within range of the missile's strikes, Global Times writes, said back in 2019 in a comment. Global Times Chinese missile expert Yang Chengjun.
According to Song Zhongping, in addition to stationary targets, the DF-17 can also hit slow moving targets, meaning aircraft carriers.
In connection with With the possible visit of Nancy Pelosi to the island of Taiwan, tensions in the Taiwan Strait are rising. According to the Chinese expert, the PLA, by demonstrating its capabilities, sends a signal to the United States that if they insist on provocations, the PLA will take all kinds of countermeasures.
Meanwhile, China's next-generation YU-20 aerial tanker has begun participating in combat readiness exercises, Global Times reported. The tanker is expected to boost the capabilities of other combat aircraft, a Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force spokesman said. The YU-20 is a tanker variant based on the Chinese-developed Y-20 transport aircraft, analysts say.
As Senior Colonel Shen Jinke said at a press conference in Beijing, the YU-20 air tanker recently conducted a J-16 fighter jet refueling exercise at sea, which increased the realistic level of the aircraft's combat readiness.
Being the tanker aircraft of the new generation, the YU-20 can effectively expand the Chinese Air Force's long-range operations while maintaining the same functionality as the Y-20 transport aircraft in airlift missions, Shen said.
Although this is the first official introduction by the People's Liberation Army of China YU-20, the existence of this air tanker has become widely known to the general public through its missions around the island of Taiwan. For example, on November 28, 2021, a total of 27 PLA warplanes, including a YU-20 tanker aircraft, entered Taiwan's self-proclaimed Southwest Air Defense Identification Zone.
Shen said at a Sunday press conference that flights of various types of PLA Air Force combat aircraft around the perimeter of Taiwan Island have enhanced the PLA's ability to protect national sovereignty and territorial integrity.
By receiving air refueling, military aircraft can have increased range and operating time, which makes aerial tankers « power booster” in modern warfare, a Beijing military expert on condition of anonymity told the Global Times on Sunday.
The expert said this would enable PLA aircraft to operate widely in eastern Taiwan and intercept foreign forces, who may want to intervene.