The United States, China, and North Korea are experiencing heightened tensions following record launches of ballistic missile by Pyongyang.
Washington appears to be preparing for a conflict in the region that threatens to happen although it is not clear when it could happen or what may trigger it.
China’s claim on Taiwan is definitely a source of tension and Washington’s strategic ambiguity on defending Taiwan is also another source.
In recent weeks, Chinese naval manoeuvres in the region following a US high level visit to Taiwan with the latter deployed an attack aircraft also fuelled tensions.
The United States had also deployed A-10C Thunderbolt IIs to the Pacific island of Guam for what it termed as “routine dynamic recruitment operation.”
The USAF has a Base on Guam, which incidentally is governed by Washington; Guam shares a border with China. The A-10s are from the United States Air Force’s 23rd Airlift Wing in Georgia. The Pentagon however has not disclosed the number of A-10s it has deployed in the region.
The presence of the A-10 is interesting since it is an attack aircraft designed to provide ground forces with air support. Flying at low altitudes, the A-10 is very effective against armoured ground vehicles and tanks.
Only on rare occasions does the United States deploys A-10s around its air bases.
A potential conflict between China and Taiwan is closer than previously thought speculates military analysts.
The most likely scenarios for deploying A-10’s from Guam is likely to involve in air patrol operations.
It is also not clear whether the A-10 deployed at Guam is aimed at replacing the existing squadron of A-10s stationed at Osan Air Force Base in South Korea.
It is also possible that a military exercise may be planned in the future. There were reports in the US media of a military exercise code named Iron Thunder.
According to media reports, the US Air Force has also deployed B-1B Lancer bombers to its Guam base last month.
For the United States, Guam is of strategic importance. While earlier Washington had not given it such importance, the island is now becoming increasingly strategic in the backdrop of looming regional conflicts.
In recent years, the Pentagon has carried out works to improve the island’s defences. In civilian economy terms, Guam is also home to important regional energy platforms and acts as logistics hubs.