China's Hypersonic Cruise Missiles Pose Threat to US Carriers
Representation of a hypersonic missile technology being developed by China and Russia (Photo: NASA)

China is working on perfecting a hypersonic mid-range ballistic missile system that could if deployed accurately, sink an entire U.S. aircraft carrier. This development was reported in the state news media in China.

China Times and others published a report on Tuesday saying that the Dongfeng-17 – a midrange rocket could be used to sink an entire U.S. aircraft carrier, if it is fired eight times. Chen Guangwen, a Chinese military commentator, said the Dongfeng-17 is "impossible" to be traced and intercepted by "Western missile defence." If Dongfeng-ZF's hypersonic warhead technology is perfected, the weapon poses a major threat to the United States' missile defence network deployed on its warships, Chen said. The commentator touted the missile’s superiority to its predecessors Dongfeng-21D and the Dongfeng-26, also known for their potential to strike against aircraft carriers.

This news comes after the U.S. has carried out multiple ‘freedom of navigation’ operations in waters contested by China such as the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

The U.S.-China relationship is also at one of their lowest point ever with an ongoing trade war along with the Trump Administration throwing its weight behind an Indo-Pacific policy to contain Beijing’s reach.

US President Donald Trump had also recently announced in a policy speech that his administration was looking at revamping the country’s missile defence technology owing to China and Russia pursuing hypersonic missile defence tech. In December 2018, a U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said the U.S. lacks the defences needed to protect against a new breed of highly sophisticated hypersonic weapons from China and Russia.

“China and Russia are pursuing hypersonic weapons because their speed, altitude and maneuverability may defeat most missile defence systems, and they may be used to improve long-range conventional and nuclear strike capabilities,” the report said. “There are no existing countermeasures.”