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U.S. Expands Mid-Pacific Wake Island Airbase For Future Hostilities With China

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U.S. Expands Mid-Pacific Wake Island Airbase For Future Hostilities With China

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Satellite images, provided to the War Zone by Planet Labs show that the US has been hard at work expanding its air base on Wake Island, in the Pacific Ocean.

The island reportedly located just out of range of China’s missiles.

 

The restricted access island—which is one of the most remote on Earth—is an unincorporated territory of the US that is also claimed by the Marshall Islands. Most of the atoll is taken up by a 9,800-foot runway-long enough to accommodate anything in the Pentagon’s inventory.

This is of importance, since in the case of a conflict, such a forward position provides potential possibility A2/AD (Anti Access/Area Denial) and also allows to counter China’s A2/AD capabilities.

“Beyond its clear logistical utility, acting as a major hub where there isn’t another for thousands of miles, it sits outside the range of China’s and North Korea’s medium-range ballistic missiles, and largely at the end, if not entirely out of range, of their intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs),” a report noted.

“Guam, which is situated about 1,500 miles further west, is well within the range of these weapons.”

Reportedly, the Pentagon has been pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the secretive strategic stronghold in recent years.

This is incredibly important for the US in case of a conflict with China, but at the same time, this is only one part of a complex situation.

Even with Wake Island, any operation like this will rely very heavily on America’s rapidly aging aerial refueling tanker fleet. This includes refueling the bombers, yes, but especially when it comes to short-ranged tactical airpower once they can get close enough to their targets to be relevant in a peer state conflict in the Pacific at all.

If Wake Island didn’t exist, America’s tankers and fighters would be pushed back to Hawaii, positioned 2,300 miles from Wake Island, or even Alaska, if it were not for the island outpost, at least initially, during a major conflict.

Another option is Midway, which sits 1,200 miles east of Wake Island, but it has limited capacity and a shorter runway.

“So, the idea is that Wake Island would be packed with aircraft moving to and fro across the Pacific during such a major crisis, at least until the enemy’s A2/AD bubble can be degraded significantly and austere airfields farther east can be developed and activated. Even then, those forward bases would have limited capacity for prolonged operations and would be more vulnerable to enemy attacks.”

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