DF-17 missiles on display during the military parade. The missile is believed to be capable of releasing a "hypersonic glider" from the edge of space
DF-17 missiles on display during the military parade. The missile is believed to be capable of releasing a "hypersonic glider" from the edge of space AFP / GREG BAKER


  • One of the most advanced Chinese hypersonic missiles reportedly has been in service for more than four years
  • A military source described the DF-27 missile as China's "trump card"
  • Leaked Pentagon documents acknowledged DF-27's existence and ability to strike Hawaii

An undisclosed Chinese hypersonic missile is capable of reaching parts of the U.S. and penetrating American defenses, according to a report.

An unnamed military source, who requested anonymity due to the sensitivity of the topic, told the South China Morning Post (SCMP) that China is keeping one of its most advanced hypersonic missiles, the DF-27, under wraps even though it has been in service for more than four years.

The DF-27 missile allegedly entered service sometime before 2019, according to the source. But it was its predecessor, the DF-17, that instead took center stage during China's National Day military parade that year.

"The DF-27 had been in service in the rocket force before 2019, but the PLA [People's Liberation Army] did not want to disclose such a 'trump card' so early," SCMP's source claimed.

The military source noted that DF-27 has features similar to its predecessor, such as having a range of 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) and being able to travel at five times the speed of sound. It is also capable of carrying multiple warheads like the DF-21D, which is dubbed an "aircraft carrier killer."

The Pentagon first acknowledged DF-27's existence in its annual report for 2021, which noted that it had a range of between 5,000 kilometers to 8,000 kilometers, enough to strike Hawaii from mainland China.

The Chinese hypersonic missile was also mentioned in U.S. intelligence documents that leaked earlier this year. The leaked documents said China's People's Liberation Army conducted a successful DF-27 test last Feb. 25 and concluded there was a "high probability" it could penetrate the U.S. missile defense systems.

"The PLA needs to carry out constant tests of the DF-27 missiles, which has a very complex operating system, even though it has been in use for several years," the source said when asked about the U.S. intelligence reports about the Chinese missile.

The DF-27 will not be aimed at U.S. states but will instead target key American bases in Japan and Guam, according to SCMP.

According to Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan's Naval Academy in Kaohsiung, the U.S. has been aware of the PLA's plan to develop a more advanced hypersonic missile for several years.

In response to DF-27, the U.S. has deployed additional Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) systems in Guam, Lu claimed.

"The THAAD system is able to intercept targets like the DF-26 and even the DF-27 when the missiles are gliding in midcourse inside or outside the atmosphere," Lu said.

Last March, Air and Space Forces Magazine reported that the Pentagon is preparing to overhaul Guam's air and missile defenses by investing $1.5 billion in a new missile and air shield in the fiscal year 2024.

Michelle Atkinson, the director of operations for the Missile Defense Agency in the Department of Defense, cited regional threats, "including those from [People's Republic of China]," as the reasons the U.S. is bolstering its defenses in Guam.

Airman found dead at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam
The Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. Getty Images / Justin Sullivan