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Experts: US Plans to Improve Missile Defense of Guam

Washington – The U.S. plans to dramatically enhance the missile protection system on the island of Guam, its territory closest to China, a transfer urgently wanted amid evolving missile and hypersonic weapon threats from Beijing, analysts say.

The head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency, U.S. Navy Vice Admiral Jon Hill, mentioned the primary ballistic missile protection system was deployed greater than 20 years in the past, and “a modernization of a system that can defend the homeland is key going forward,” in an interview with Defense News earlier this month.

Guam faces an ‘developed risk,’ as Hill put it, particularly from China, within the type of more and more superior ballistic and cruise missiles, in addition to new hypersonic weapons and even potential threats from house, which may strike concurrently from a number of completely different vectors.

Experts instructed VOA Mandarin that putting in new air and missile protection capabilities on the island is a part of a broader effort to discourage China throughout the Asia-Pacific area.

“Guam would be crucially important in a Taiwan contingency,” Denny Roy, a senior fellow on the East-West Center who focuses on Asia Pacific safety points, instructed VOA Mandarin in an emailed response. “It is close enough to anticipated flashpoints to be highly useful as a logistics hub, but far enough that some Chinese weapons systems would have difficulty striking it.”

Tensions between the U.S. and China escalated in August following House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s go to to Taiwan. China has stepped up navy workouts across the self-ruled island, and Beijing is reported to have stationed next-generation submarines throughout the waters dealing with Taiwan.

Guam, the westernmost territory of the United States, prides itself on being ‘the place America’s day begins.’ It’s a lot nearer to Asia than the U.S.; it is about 11,600 kilometers from the continental U.S., however solely 2,700 kilometers away from Taiwan and 4,751 kilometers from China.

After World War II, Guam turned one of the vital essential naval and air pressure bases for the U.S. within the Pacific area, which consists of the islands of Japan stretching to Guam and the islands of Micronesia.

Malcolm Davis, a senior analyst at Australian Strategic Policy Institute, a suppose tank within the capital metropolis of Canberra, instructed VOA Mandarin that Guam is a key goal for potential People’s Liberation Army (PLA) ballistic and cruise missile assaults as a result of it has “a lot of military hardware concentrated in a small region – a ‘target-rich environment.'”

Davis mentioned there are indicators that China will annex Taiwan with pressure, risk within the subsequent decade. If the U.S. fails to guard Guam as a functioning ahead base, defending Taiwan would develop into tougher for Washington, and it could make Beijing’s annexation of Taiwan extra doubtless, he mentioned.

Hours after VOA Mandarin revealed this report in Chinese, China’s state-backed media Global Times mentioned in an editorial on Wednesday that if the U.S. navy intervenes in Taiwan affairs by pressure, “U.S. military bases, including Guam, are naturally within the PLA’s firepower range.”

The Global Times report mentioned U.S. companies “including the Pentagon, FBI and CIA are masters at fabricating ‘China horror stories,'” with the purpose of getting Congressional approval for larger budgets.

“The U.S. military’s remaking and upgrading of Guam can be considered ‘spiritual comfort’ at best. If Washington wants to truly resolve its inner unease, there is actually only one way: to completely dispel the idea of provoking China, and not to regard Guam as a ‘new front line against China,’ stated the Global Times piece.

Blake Herzinger, a nonresident Pacific Forum fellow and U.S. Navy Reserve officer, told VOA Mandarin in a phone interview that China could launch its Dong Feng-26 (DF-26) ballistic missile with a 4,000-kilometer range capable of striking Guam. Labeled by Chinese media as “the Guam Killer,” DF-26 features a modular design, allowing quick swaps between nuclear and conventional warheads.

“With that missile, the U.S. would haven’t any method of figuring out whether or not it is a nuclear missile or not,” Herzinger told VOA Mandarin. “That opens the door for a possible nuclear escalation, which is a scary prospect.”

The 2023 U.S. defense budget calls for $892 million to build a ship-based Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense System to defend Guam. The Pentagon announced last month it would finish the project by 2028, yet Roy said that would be too late.

“The vulnerability of Guam, and the issue this may create for U.S. forces within the area, has been well-known for at the very least a decade, however the U.S. authorities has solely began taking critical motion within the final 12 months or so,” he told VOA Mandarin.

Roy continued to say the U.S. plan to complete a more capable new defense system by 2028 “does not align with Adm. Davidson’s warning that China will assault Taiwan by 2027.” Former commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. Philip Davidson, warned in 2021 that China will launch a navy assault in opposition to Taiwan within the subsequent six years.

Adm. Philip Davidson, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, waits for the arrival of Japan's Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga for a meeting at the prime minister's office, Oct. 22, 2020, in Tokyo.

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Herzinger pointed out that besides more advanced missile systems, the U.S. should also invest in cheaper, easier measures on Guam, such as building effective concrete aircraft shelters and investing in the next generation capability of the airfield.

“Far past its worth as a strategic outpost, most significantly, Guam is American territory. So, folks residing in Guam are as deserving of safety in opposition to aggression as some other American residents in our nation,” he said, “I believe that is essentially the most wholesome method to have a look at this.”