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The USA to deploy new land-based missiles in Indo-Pacific region

The USA to deploy new land-based missiles in Indo-Pacific region Photo: The USA will deploy new land-based missiles in the Indo-Pacific region (Getty Images)

The United States is set to deploy medium-range land-based missiles in the Indo-Pacific region in 2024 as part of efforts to enhance deterrence against China - Nikkei cites Rob Phillips, a spokesperson for U.S. Army Pacific.

According to Phillips, among medium-range land-based missiles, the following are considered:

  • land-based versions of the Standard Missile-6 (SM-6);
  • the Tomahawk cruise missile.

This marks the first deployment following the expiration of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in 2019, which prohibited countries from developing land-based missiles with a range of 500 km to 5,500 km. While the US was bound by the treaty,

China continued expanding its arsenal. Pentagon estimates indicate that Beijing possesses 1,500 missiles with a range of 1,000 km to 5,500 km.

Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, explained that the US plans to deploy medium-range missile units primarily to Guam. Additionally, the US will explore opportunities for more operational deployment from allies in case of unforeseen circumstances.

"Guam has become a strategically critical location for U.S. military operations in the western Pacific and is 4,000 km from mainland China. The intermediate-range missile units could be deployed rapidly from the island to Asian allies in response to emergencies," adds the publication.

However, Japan and the Philippines express reluctance to accept additional American forces and assets due to concerns about becoming potential targets for the Chinese military in the event of an escalation. White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre stated in January that there are no plans for the deployment of new land-based missiles in Japan. The President of the Philippines has also emphasized that the US does not intend to use military bases in his country for strike operations against China.

"Washington intends to advance ground-based missile deployment to serve as deterrence against military action by China. Mobile and agile missile units are more likely to avoid detection and enemy strikes than ships or aircraft. They also do not require runways or ports, allowing for greater flexibility," the publication adds.

Strengthening security in the Indo-Pacific region

In late July of this year, news surfaced about the USA and Australia's intentions to enhance cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region and establish a joint intelligence center.

Subsequently, in August, joint naval exercises involving Japan, the USA, Australia, and the Philippines were conducted in the South China Sea. The primary objective of these exercises was to bolster collaboration among the four nations in pursuit of a free and open Indo-Pacific region.