September 26, 2022

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The strategically-vital US island of Guam is set for a major boost to its missile defences amid rising tensions in the Asia Pacific region.

New defence capabilities on the island will be needed to combat an “evolved” threat of advanced weapons from China and North Korea, a top US commander said.

The head of the US Missile Defence Agency (MDA), Vice Admiral Jon Hill, told US journal Defense News, they included hypersonic weapons, ballistic and cruise missiles as well as potential space systems.
The US military plans to upgrade missile defences on the strategic Pacific island of Guam, home to air bases and naval installations. (US Air Force) (US Air Force)

He said the MDA was still finalising the new military technology needed on Guam – including radar sensors, interceptor weapons and command and control systems.

But he said the US military was aiming to install new defences by 2026 and they would provide comprehensive coverage.

“So you can think of a number of radars that ensure we meet the requirement, which is persistent 360-degree coverage, right, because of the evolved threat.”

Guam lies 3000km south-east of Shanghai in China and is the closest US military base to the Chinese mainland.

There are two major bases on Guam: Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south.

Altogether, 7000 US military personnel are stationed on Guam.

The small but strategically important island has been the subject of past threats by foreign powers.

The US Navy ballistic-missile submarine USS Nevada at Naval Base Guam earlier this year. (CNN)

North Korea in January announced it test-launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of reaching Guam.

The Hwasong-12 missile is a nuclear-capable ground-to-ground weapon with a maximum range of 4500km when it’s fired on a standard trajectory.

In August 2017, at the height of tensions with the then-Trump administration, North Korea threatened to make “an enveloping fire” near Guam with missiles.

The powerful DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missile has a range of 4500km and is capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads.

China accuses the US of ‘navigation bullying’

– Reported with Associated Press

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