The American military has deployed one of its two Iron Dome anti-missile batteries to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. The system, which was developed in Israel, is currently being tested in Guam as part of American effort to defend the territory from the threat of Chinese missiles, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.
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According to the report, Iron Dome would be of little use against ballistic missiles launched from China, but the current test “points to the wide range of U.S. hardware heading to the Asia-Pacific region as the Pentagon addresses a Chinese buildup that it has called its No.1 challenge.”
The system could be used against cruise missiles launched from Chinese bombers, although one expert told The Wall Street Journal that use of Iron Dome was “very much an interim solution.” That echoes information from the 94th Army Air and Missile Defense Command, which recently told Defense News that it was dispatching the battery as part of a “temporary, experimental deployment” focused on “gathering data on sustainment, deployment considerations, and how we integrate Iron Dome with our existing air defense systems.”
Developed by Israel's Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and Israel Aerospace, the Iron Dome system is designed to intercept and destroy short-range rockets and artillery shells and has been in use by the Israel Defense Forces since 2011.
In February 2019, the United States said it planned to purchase a limited number of Iron Dome batteries to "be assessed and experimented as a system that is currently available to protect deployed U.S. military service members against a wide variety of indirect fire threats and aerial threats.”
In August of this year, the United States successfully conducted its first domestic live-fire test of Iron Dome at the White Sands missile Range in New Mexico. But the army subsequently decided to go with a system developed Dynetics, an Alabama defense contractor, rather than the Israeli system.
Satellite images released by Colorado-based Maxar Technologies on Sunday showed that China's military has built mockups in the shape of a U.S. Navy aircraft carrier and other American warships, possibly as training targets to be used in the Taklamakan Desert in China's Xinjiang region. The mockups reflect China's effort to build up its capabilities against aircraft carriers and specifically against the U.S. Navy, as tensions remain high with Washington over Taiwan and the South China Sea.
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The satellite images revealed the full-scale outline of a U.S. carrier and at least two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers built at what appears to be a new target range complex in the Taklamakan Desert. The images also showed a 6-meter-wide rail system with a ship-sized target mounted on it, which experts say could be used to simulate a moving vessel.
Reuters contributed to this report.