Hypersonic gliders could breach THAAD defenses

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Last week Beijing conducted the seventh successful test of its DF-ZF glide vehicle designed to defeat US missile defenses.

 

Both Russia and China have recently successfully tested their offset hypersonic gliders, capable of breaching the American THAAD system (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense), which it plans to deploy in South Korea; the test comes as a “warning to the US,” according to Chinese military experts.

“The hypersonic tests by China and Russia are aimed at causing a threat to the US, which plans to set up a missile defense system in South Korea,” the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong-based English-language newspaper writes, quoting Professor He Qisong, a defense policy specialist at the Shanghai University of Political Science and Law.

His comment refers to the recent successful tests by the two countries of their offset Hypersonic Gliders.

The view is echoed by Beijing-based military expert Li Jie, who said that China was trying to use the recent DF-ZF test to warn the US that the PLA (Chinese People’s Liberation Army) had “another powerful weapon capable of countering the THAAD system.”

The US proposes to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea, claiming it is needed to protect its regional allies from North Korea.

The DF-ZF is an ultra-high-speed missile which can travel at speeds between Mach 5 and Mach 10, which is 5 to 10 times the speed of sound and is capable of penetrating US air defense systems based on interceptor missiles.

The hypersonic strike vehicle (Pentagon’s previous code name WU-14) consists of a rocket that reaches the upper atmosphere to then release a glider that reaches hypersonic speeds upon descent.

The ballistic missile booster was fired from the Wuzhai missile launch center in central China.

It transported the DF-ZF HGV (hypersonic glide vehicle) near the edge of the atmosphere, the boundary between space and Earth’s atmosphere, approximately 100 km above the ground, where it separated from its launcher and then glided to an impact range a few thousands kilometers away, according to the Washington Free Beacon.

Once HGV reaches that height, it begins to glide in a relatively flat trajectory by executing a pull-up maneuver and accelerates to speeds of up to Mach 10. Its velocity can range between 6,400 kilometers per hour to 11,200 kilometers per hour.

The gliding phase enables the HGV not only to maneuver aerodynamically – performing evasive actions and evading interception – but also extends the range of the missile.

It still remains unclear whether the DF-ZF HGV will be armed with nuclear or conventional warheads.

Full article: Hypersonic gliders could breach THAAD defenses (Spacewar)

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