China Is Getting Serious About Mach 10 “Hypersonic” Weapons

New super-high-speed weapons systems would dodge existing air defenses.

By Kyle Mizokami Jun 21, 2016

A new report says China is making progress in developing so-called hypersonic weapons that could evade current missile defenses, delivering a conventional or nuclear bomb at blistering speeds.

The report, by the Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation, covers Chinese development of the DF-ZF hypersonic weapon. Hypersonic weapons are a new class of weapon system currently under development by the United States, Russia, and China. Supersonic speed is defined as Mach 1 to Mach 5—beyond that is the realm of hypersonic flight.

The DF-ZF is a vehicle—think of it as a large missile warhead—that sits atop a medium-range ballistic missile such as the one pictured above. China has a lot of medium range missiles, meaning the delivery vehicle has already been perfected and is deployed in large numbers by the People’s Liberation Rocket Forces.

The DF-ZF is blasted into a spaceward trajectory like any other ballistic missile. The comparison stops there, though. The DF-ZF doesn’t actually fly into low earth orbit. Instead it noses down and back up again to control direction, speed, and altitude, eventually it can dive down toward the target at a blistering Mach 10.

Chinese graphic depicting DF-ZF flight path.

Chinese graphic depicting DF-ZF flight path.

China’s new weapon will be difficult to shoot down. Ballistic missile defenses designed to intercept ballistic missiles, such as the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense, probably would be unable to shoot down a hypersonic weapon. By stopping short of going into space, DF-ZF avoids the GBMD’s engagement envelope altogether.

That’s not to say the DF-ZF is unstoppable. Defensive systems that intercept in the terminal phase, such as the Patriot PAC-3, would have a chance of downing the DF-ZF. Plenty of China’s neighbors, including Japan, Taiwan, and South Korea, field the PAC-3. It’s a relatively short-ranged weapon, however, meaning it must be located relatively near the target to defend it.

China has tested its hypersonic weapon seven times in three years, with six tests considered a success. So clearly the DF-ZF is important to China, but nobody is quite sure why. It may be developing them simply because the U.S. and Russia are developing their own versions and China sees this as a status issue. The Jamestown report speculates China would like the ability to bypass regional ballistic missile defenses. Another theory is that the DF-ZF could be used to attack American aircraft carriers.

Some news outlets have described the DF-ZF as a nuclear first strike weapon, but China has at most 300 nuclear warheads versus several thousand owned by the United States (and Russia). China would be unable to guarantee destruction of America’s nuclear arsenal in one massive DF-ZF barrage, leaving the door open for a devastating—and likely civilization-ending—counterattack.

Whatever the reason, China is serious about hypersonic strike capability. It has fast tracked the DF-ZF’s development and may be on the verge of operational deployment. When it is operational, it will be a serious quiver in Beijing’s bow.

Source: Popular Mechanics “China Is Getting Serious About Mach 10 ‘Hypersonic’ Weapons”


4 Comments on “China Is Getting Serious About Mach 10 “Hypersonic” Weapons”

  1. James says:

    Lets cut to the chase of the issue. Mainland America has never been attacked and bombed on a wholesale manner. In contrast Europe, Russia, and the Far East have endured years of wars and deaths by the tens of million.
    Mainland America has enjoyed peace and prosperity over the past 100+ years. Meanwhile the rest of the world “burns”. Americans leaders don’t care about how many non Americans die in any past or future conflict. So long as their homeland is safe from any regional or global conflict they will bomb and destroy to stay as the world’s uno hegemon.
    Their lives are “more” precious.
    The point is, if we want to keep world peace , we have to extract a very heavy price from the Americans in lives and destruction to their cities. And I’m talking of nuclear.
    Only when the American leaders realise China/Russia can give as much as they take, will American Neo-Cons wake up. Until they come to realisation their precious homeland and lives can just as well be vaporised, world peace is elusive.

    Development of these hypersonic delivery systems is therefore urgently required as a balance to the American madness. America has run out of viable options to maintain their standard of living and their hegemonic hold on the world. They only see regional conflict as a “get out” card


  2. Steve says:

    About time China seriously engage in the development of these hypersonic delivery weapons. Although, shrouded in secrecy, hopefully the technical research and application of these hypersonics has reached an advanced stage. I believe the US have being planning an Asian war of epic proportions and the end result would be nuclear first strike. Its practically impossible to start a conventional war and not end in civilisation ending nuclear devastation. The battle will be a far distant delivery of nuclear ballistic missiles towards the homelands of China, US and probably involve Russia. The US will not position its aircraft carriers in the ECS and SCS, can be easily pinpointed by satellite imagery. In a conventional war, its difficult for the US to outgun China strategically in the ECS and SCS. The US carriers will be installed with nuclear tip warheads and I don’t think Japan would allow the carriers stationed around it’s country. It will be far distant delivery of nuclear and conventional cruise and ballistic missiles.


  3. Sentinel says:


    “Some news outlets have described the DF-ZF as a nuclear first strike weapon, but China has at most 300 nuclear warheads versus several thousand owned by the United States (and Russia). China would be unable to guarantee destruction of America’s nuclear arsenal in one massive DF-ZF barrage, leaving the door open for a devastating—and likely civilization-ending—counterattack.”

    If this says anything, it says that the American “aliens” are a war-thirsty war-mongering murderous bunch of psychopaths. If there is anything to learn from the experience of the native North American Indians, the Koreans, the Japanese, and the Vietnamese, it is that these barbarians’ words cannot be trusted; That they want planet Earth and they will wipe out other human beings or races to claim it; That East Asians count for nothing since they are inferior races; That there are too many of them here on Earth, and that they should be bombed and shot and killed like the 10% (5 million) Koreans decimated in the 50s, the 3-5 million Vietnamese slaughtered during the Vietnamese defensive war against the American invaders, and the 300,000 Japanese vaporized by American atomic bombs notwithstanding that the Japanese Imperial Army were ready to surrender already. Now they would be ready to conduct wholescale genocide of the Chinese people. Just because they got more nuclear bombs.

    What does this tell us of the psyche of the “alien” American barbarians? Simple. That they are racists through and through and that they are warlike “aliens” who must be resisted at all costs.

    What else does that tell us? That just because they have thousands of nuclear bombs, they can wipe anyone out if they dared to be defiant and uncowed when they are asked to surrender and be a subject of the American Empire. And they will have no hesitation in doing that. Not unless they are equally threatened. Therefore it tells us, Beijing MUST develop as many offensive nuclear bombs as possible .. to be on par, or better still, exceed the numbers Imperial Washington has. There can be no half measures now that we know what the mentality of the barbaric racist American “alien” is like.

    Beijing .. kindly go on a crash program to develop 10,000 nuclear bombs immediately. War will be upon you soon whether you like it or not, and it is an enemy that is uncommon but an existential threatening one. You MUST be realistic.


    • name says:

      100% correct. white “Christians” are absolute psychopaths. they have proven this repeatedly for centuries and against EVERY race on the planet. There is no peace with these white devils. I agree with the poster. China must resolutely develop the world’s most powerful weapons to defend it self and also supply shorter ranged but also very powerful weapons for America’s closest neighbors to keep them in check. We already know what happened to the Incans.