China offers rare glimpse of advanced missiles ahead of party congress

Displays of military vehicles carrying the DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile and DF-17 hypersonic missile at an exhibition in Beijing on Oct 12, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
A display of the GJ-11 stealth combat drone at an exhibition in Beijing on Oct 12, 2022. PHOTO: REUTERS
China's medium-range DF-17 ballistic missile carries a hypersonic glide vehicle, which makes it harder to intercept. PHOTO: MINISTRY OF NATIONAL DEFENCE/PEOPLE'S REPUBLIC OF CHINA

BEIJING - China has allowed rare, close-up access to some of its most advanced ballistic missiles, as President Xi Jinping touts efforts to deter the United States ahead of a key leadership reshuffle next week.

Several home-grown weapons systems including the Dongfeng-41 and Dongfeng-17 ballistic missiles were put on display as part of an exhibit on Wednesday in Beijing marking Communist Party achievements under Xi's rule.

While both weapons were paraded through Tiananmen Square to mark the People's Republic's 70th anniversary in 2019, they have rarely been shown at such an intimate distance.

The DF-41 intercontinental ballistic missile is one of the world's longest-range missiles, capable of carrying multiple warheads and striking anywhere in the US. The medium-range DF-17 carries a hypersonic glide vehicle, an ultra-modern system under development that makes missiles harder to intercept.

Both weapons are central to Beijing's success in building one of the largest and most diverse missile arsenals in the world, a key challenge facing US military planners contemplating a potential clash with China over Taiwan.

Xi will likely allude to such progress during a speech on Sunday to open the Communist Party's twice-a-decade leadership congress, at which he is expected to secure a third, five-year term in office.

The GJ-11 Sharpe Sword stealth combat drone was also among the weapons on display on Wednesday at the Beijing Exhibition Centre.

The unmanned aerial vehicle is capable of delivering weapons by a remotely located pilot and doing surveillance at sea, pushing China into technological terrain long dominated by the US. BLOOMBERG

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