by Staff Writers
Tokyo (AFP) Aug 12, 2017
Japan deployed its Patriot missile defence system on Saturday after North Korea threatened to fire ballistic missiles over the country towards the US Pacific territory of Guam, local officials and reports said.
Regional tensions are mounting as Washington and Pyongyang ratchet up their war of words, with President Donald Trump warning Pyongyang would "truly regret" any hostile action against the US.
Japan has in the past vowed to shoot down North Korean missiles or rockets that threaten to hit its territory.
The defence ministry deployed the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system in Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi in western Japan, which North Korea had warned could be along its missiles' flight path, public broadcaster NHK and Kyodo News said.
It also deployed the anti-missile system in neighbouring Ehime, according to the reports, while the Asahi Shimbun said one maritime Self-Defence Force Aegis destroyer was stationed in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) to shoot down airborne missiles.
Television footage showed military vehicles carrying launchers and other equipment for the surface-to-air system entering a Japanese base in Kochi before dawn.
Immediate confirmation from the defence ministry was not available but an official at the crisis management office of the Kochi prefectural government said the PAC-3 had been deployed.
"While standing by 24 hours in preparation for a launch, we are calling on our residents to be on alert in case we issue emergency information," Makoto Ebuchi added.
Yoshihide Suga, Japan's chief government spokesman, said earlier this week that Tokyo "can never tolerate" provocations from North Korea and the country's military, will "take necessary measures" to protect itself.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also renewed his pledge Saturday morning to prevent any accidents related to the North's warned launch.
"I will do my best to secure our people's lives and property," Abe said without elaboration.
Japan has deployed the missile interceptors in the past ahead of other North Korean launches but has never actually shot anything down.
In 2009, a North Korean rocket passed over Japanese territory without incident, triggering Japan's immediate denouncement.
At the time North Korea said it was launching a telecommunications satellite, but Washington, Seoul and Tokyo believed Pyongyang was testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.
On Friday, President Donald Trump urged North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un not to take any action against the US, its territories including Guam or its allies, warning he would regret such a move -- and "regret it fast."
Dunford reassures South Korean allies at Combined Forces Command
"The message today was the ironclad commitment to the alliance," Dunford said following a meeting with top South Korean defense officials.
Dunford downplayed any talk of preemptive action against North Korea, saying that the current defense posture was defensive in nature until ordered otherwise by the president.
"The military dimension today is directly in support of that diplomatic and economic effort," he said.
"We are seeking peaceful resolution to the crisis right now."
North Korean ballistic missile tests followed by threats to the strategic U.S. territory Guam has led to reassurances from military officials that they are capable of combating any North Korean action. U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened massive retaliation if North Korea attacks U.S. forces or territory.
The United States maintains a large military presence in the Western Pacific that has gained renewed focus following North Korean belligerence and an increasingly assertive China.
There are currently 25,500 military personnel in South Korea, over 7,000 military and civilian personnel on Guam, and another 55,000 in Japan, primarily from the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps. All are in potential range of North Korean ballistic missile attacks.
The U.S. has 6 B-1 Lancer bombers on a rotation through Andersen Air Force Base, where they would likely play a large role in any potential conflict with North Korea. It is capable of supporting B-2 Spirit heavy stealth bombers and their special facilities as well.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier strike group and two amphibious assault carriers are currently actively deployed in the Pacific as well as dozens of destroyers, cruisers, submarines, and support ships.
The 90th Fighter Squadron composed of F-22 Raptor stealth fighters was deployed to Australia in February for training exercises with the Royal Australian Air Force, and has been strengthening facilities and cooperation there.
Guam has had a Terminal High Altitude Air Defense battery in Guam since 2013 for ballistic missile defense.
The U.S. military has been building up its facilities in Guam to accommodate the stationing of 4,000 more Marines on Guam by 2021. Most of these units would be repositioned from South Korea and Japan.
Threats from North Korea could end up delaying some of those plans, as the Marine Corps Commandant Robert Neller testified to Congress in May earlier this year.
Washington (UPI) Aug 9, 2017
Jacobs Technology is receiving a contract with a maximum value of $4.6 billion for services for the Missile Defense Agency, the Department of Defense announced on Wednesday. The services will go toward the Missile Defense Integration and Operations Center and communications and informations technology for MDA. The work will primarily be conducted at Schriever Air Force Base in Colorado, ... read more
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