The US military will deploy new medium-range missile systems to the Pacific region next year for the purpose of “deterring” China from invading Taiwan, the commander of US Army Pacific Forces said on Saturday.
According to Defense One, Gen. Charles Flynn said the deployment will include a land-based version of the Tomahawk missile, which was previously banned under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, a treaty with Russia the US withdrew from in 2019.
“We have tested them and we have a battery or two of them today,” Flynn said. “In 2024. We intend to deploy that system in your region. I’m not going to say where and when. But I will just say that we will deploy them.”
The INF Treaty previously banned the development of land-based missiles with a range between 310 to 3,400 miles. The US’s new land-based batteries that use Tomahawk missiles can hit targets of up to 1,000 miles. The US Marines Corps activated its first Tomahawk battery over the summer at a base in California.
The US withdrew from the INF over allegations that a new missile Russia was developing violated the treaty, which Moscow denied. Russia also accused the US of potentially running afoul of the treaty by installing Aegis Ashore missile defense systems in Romania and Poland. The systems use Mk-41 vertical launchers, which can fit Tomahawk missiles.
The new battery activated by the Marines uses an Mk-41 launch system cell, demonstrating that the Russian concerns about the Aegis Systems are not unfounded. The US formally exited the INF treaty on August 2, 2019, and began testing INF-range missiles with ground-based Mk-41 launchers just a few weeks later.
While Flynn would not say where the Tomahawk missiles would be deployed, there are indications they could end up in Japan. The US is also expanding its military presence in the Philippines as part of its buildup against China, which US military officials say is meant to deter war. But the US buildup, which Beijing views as a containment strategy, has only escalated tensions with China and appears to be making war more likely.