China is developing AI-camouflaged ‘invisible’ missile launchers for future warfare

The launchers are for DF-17 missiles, which can allegedly breach U.S. missile defenses.
Baba Tamim
Stock photo: 3d Illustration - China's rocket forces concept.
Stock photo: 3d Illustration - China's rocket forces concept.


China is making launchers for its series of road-mobile missiles named "Dongfeng," which could avoid being detected by drones, radars, and satellites.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology will be utilized for the Dongfeng launchers, South China Morning Post (SCMP) reported on Thursday, quoting Chinese state TV broadcaster CCTV.

"I believe that on the battlefields of the future, our counterparts will not see us or know the whereabouts of our [missile launchers]," a Rocket Force expert stated during a Sunday broadcast of CCTV.

"The relationship between the missiles and the launching platform is like bullets and a gun … what we can do is to explore the potential for the platform and provide more options for future combat."

Artificial intelligence technology will be employed to make the missile launchers more tactical and "invisible," according to Yang Biwu, PLA's Rocket Force expert who worked on the DF-17 hypersonic missile's launch mechanism that blends in with its surroundings.

The DF-17 medium-range missile, which can allegedly breach U.S. missile defenses, is claimed to be the first active hypersonic glide vehicle weapon in the history of the globe.

The missile launchers are a component of a push to create new-generation weapons for future combat, according to the most recent episode of a CCTV series on the modernization of the People's Liberation Army (PLA).

Camouflaged launchers

The launch vehicle for the DF-17, according to a source close to the PLA, is a modified version of the one used for the DF-16B ballistic missiles.

The DF-16B and DF-17 are medium-range missiles built as offensive tools for the Taiwan crisis and are intended to thwart any outside military involvement in the Taiwan Strait.

The DF-41 is allegedly capable of targeting the mainland U.S. with its estimated range of more than 12,000 kilometers (7,450 miles).

A significant component of battlefield strategy, according to military analyst and former PLA instructor Song Zhongping, is the camouflage and design of missile launchers.

"Protecting troops and weapons is the top priority in all warfare situations, and especially given China's 'no first use' nuclear policy, which requires better protection during preparation for a 'second strike,'" said Zhongping.

Nuclear capable Dongfeng

Almost all of the missiles in the Dongfeng, or DF, series are dual-capable weapons that can carry conventional and nuclear warheads.

The launchers "could evade detection from satellites and the infrared rays of radar and drones, turning the PLA's missile systems into chameleon-like objects and keeping them hidden in any terrain," said Zhongping.

The CCTV broadcast also featured footage of the Chinese aircraft carrier Fujian, which was unveiled in June and featured a new fighter jet, AI-enabled tanks, new warships, and other military hardware, in addition to the camouflage launchers Yang's team developed for missiles like the DF-41 solid-fuel road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile.