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US to deploy new missiles in Asia-Pacific to deter Chinese invasion of Taiwan

US to install land-based Tomahawk, Standard Missile-6 missiles in Asia-Pacific in 2024

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USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a SM-6. (Flickr, Pacific Fleet photo)

USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) launches a SM-6. (Flickr, Pacific Fleet photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — The U.S. military is reportedly planning on deploying new land-based intermediate-range missiles in the Asia-Pacific region to deter China from invading Taiwan.

Over the weekend, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Pacific Charles Flynn said new intermediate-range land-based missiles will be deployed in the Asia-Pacific region next year to deter an invasion. This represents a significant change in U.S. policy as such missiles were previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987, but the U.S. withdrew from the treaty in 2019.

According to the U.S. military news website Defense One, Flynn on Saturday (Nov. 25) told reporters at the Halifax International Security Forum (HISF) in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, that the new U.S. deployment will include a "limited number" of land-based Tomahawk and Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) missiles.

Flynn said the U.S. has tested these missiles and plans to deploy them in 2024. He did not disclose the specific timing or location of the deployment, only saying "we will deploy them."

In addition, Flynn said these missiles may be supplemented by the Army's Precision Strike Missile (PrSM), which is slated to go online this year. The PrSM can be launched from the HIMARS system and has the capability of striking targets "499+" km away, outdistancing the 370 km range of the SM-6.

Flynn mentioned that China's rapidly developing capabilities have been significantly upgraded over the past few years and are on a "dangerous" trajectory for the Asia-Pacific region. He did not give a timeline for a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan, but listed four factors that may influence Chinese leader Xi Jinping's (習近平) decision-making process on the matter.

The first is whether Xi believes China can weather Western sanctions in the event of an invasion of Taiwan. The second is the degree of success of China's campaign to sow dissension among Washington's allies and partners.

Third is the extent to which Xi believes the People's Liberation Army (PLA) is capable of pulling off an invasion of Taiwan. Lastly, the degree to which Beijing's campaign to influence Taiwan's elections impacts the outcome.