US military planners who are worried about Chinese attacks are testing Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system in Guam, The wall Street Journal reported Tuesday (U.S. Tests Israel’s Iron Dome in Guam as Defense Against Chinese Cruise Missiles).
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States in the Micronesia subregion of the western Pacific Ocean, and the westernmost point and territory of the United States. People born in Guam are American citizens but have no vote in the United States presidential elections while residing in Guam; Guam delegates to the United States House of Representatives have no vote on the floor.
“If we can’t defend Guam—the airbase and the other things there—it’s really hard to project power into the Pacific,” Tom Karako, director of the Missile Defense Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C., think tank, told the WSJ.
The US military is asking for some $200 million to enhance Guam’s defense against ballistic missiles. The military argues that facilities on the island would be critical staging points during any conflict in the region, especially since US submarines that operate in the Pacific dock at Guam.
In August, China tested a missile with a hypersonic warhead that evades air defenses after descending from space. China is also building a fleet of bombers that will launch sea-skimming cruise missiles. The Iron Dome was made to meet these challenges.
The Israeli system was able to intercept cruise missiles that travel below the speed of sound, such as CJ-20 missiles that could threaten Guam if fired from Chinese bombers. Last August, the US Army tested the Iron Dome at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and the system destroyed eight cruise-missile surrogate targets (a surrogate target is a device which is used in objective testing to represent a vehicle but can be struck by the equipped vehicle without significant damage to the striking vehicle).
According to the WSJ, some US analysts say South Korea would be a better place to test the Iron Dome because, like Israel, it has an enemy right on its border—North Korea—likely to use missiles that are similar to those shot by Hamas and the Islamic Jihad.
Ankit Panda, an expert on Asia-Pacific defense at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, told the WSJ, “It’s worth asking where these assets are most likely to yield the greatest value.”
Of course, a surefire way to upset North Korea is to amass Israeli defense technology south of its border…