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China Developing More Than One Type of Hypersonic Missile, India Three

Published Dec 06, 2019
Updated Feb 18, 2020

DF-17, China’s hypersonic missile was first revealed at the National Day military parade on October 1. India has held technology demonstration and trials of at least three systems

However China Military Online and Global Times have indicated that this may not be the only hypersonic missile in the Chinese stable with Xingkong-2 the first Chinese waverider hypersonic vehicle unveiled by the country in 2018 earlier than the DF-17.

Designed by the China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, the Xingkong-2 was successfully tested at a target range in Northwest China in August 2018, the academy announced then.

“From the test subjects that were made available to the public, the Xingkong-2 (Starry Sky-2) might use a different flight pattern to the DF-17,” said military expert Ma Jun on Military Time, a China Central Television (CCTV) program on military affairs, on Saturday, without further elaboration.

According to Ma, the Xingkong-2 is still in the trial phase and more tests are expected.

One distinctive difference between the Xingkong-2 and the DF-17 is that the former has a fairing and the latter does not, making the two very different in appearance alone, analysts pointed out.

Xingkong-2 was tested in 2018 and is not likely to enter Chinese military service as early as 2019.

While DF 17 is seen as a boost glide vehicle, the Xingkong 2 is likely to be a scram jet high velocity driven system though the exact technology employed is not known.

It is not uncommon for countries to experiment with more than one type of hypersonic weapon.

India for instance is developing at least three types the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), the BrahMos and the Shaurya.

The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has been developing the Hypersonic Technology Demonstrator Vehicle (HSTDV), though verified details of the project are not available.

The Ministry of Defence Press Release is an indicator that India’s hyper sonic vehicle will be mounted on the Agni series of missiles and will be launched thereof.

This is the normal technique that is used by other countries this genre of missiles.

A hypersonic missile as per Defence IQ is a cruise missile that attains the speed of Mach 5 and higher – five times faster than the speed of sound (3836 mph) or around 1 mile per second. The high velocity facilitates speed in reaching the target before missile defence can get activated.

Comparatively, most cruise missiles such as the US Tomahawk are subsonic travelling at 550mph. The only supersonic cruise missile is the Indo Russian joint project BrahMos

BrahMos Aerospace the joint Indo Russian venture which is successfully manufacturing the BrahMos missile has indicated that it is developing a hypersonic version of the missile which will be capable of attaining a speed of Mach 6 based on a scramjet engine.

India has also tested the Shaurya missile way back in 2011 which is said to be having a speed of Mach 7.5 and a range of 700 miles.