WASHINGTON — The US, China, and North Korea are in a state of “boiling tension.” Against the backdrop of record ballistic missile launches from Pyongyang, Washington appears to be preparing for a war that the world knows will happen, but not when. Taiwan is a bone of contention, with China claiming autonomy over the island while the US claims independence from China.
Against the backdrop of all this and the unprecedented Chinese naval maneuvers of the past few weeks, the US has deployed attack aircraft. The A-10C Thunderbolt IIs were sent on a “routine dynamic recruitment operation” to the Pacific island of Guam. Under American rule and opposite Chinese territory, Guam hosts Anderson Air Force Base. The arriving A-10s are from the US Air Force’s 23rd Airlift Wing, in Georgia. However, the Pentagon does not announce the number of deployed A-10s in the region.
The presence of the A-10 is not so much alarming as curious. The A-10 is an attack aircraft designed to provide air support to ground forces. The aircraft is highly effective against armored ground vehicles as well as tanks, as it flies quite efficiently at low altitudes.
The US extremely rarely deploys A-10s around its air bases around the world. But the deployment of this fighter jet in “the middle of nowhere, surrounded by water” has analysts making “unwanted” assumptions. The war between China and Taiwan is closer than thought. However, such statements are highly speculative, at least at this time.
The more likely assumptions for the A-10’s deployment to Guam are aimed at air patrol operations. Also, it is not known if this combat unit in Guam is intended to replace the existing squadron of A-10s stationed in South Korea at Osan Air Force Base in the Indo-Pacific region.
A curious fact is that planes from the same US Army Air Wing were in Europe in May. There, attack aircraft took part in exercises against the background of the war between Russia and Ukraine. It is the word “training” that is most likely key in the case of the deployment of the A-10 in Guam.
Maybe an exercise is being prepared. US media talk about the Iron Thunder exercise, but there is no information about it. BulgarianMilitary.com recalls that in the middle of last month, the US Air Force sent B-1B Lancer bombers to its base in Guam. Then, too, the message from the media was about a prepared exercise. But exactly what the role of a low-flying combat aircraft developed to deal with ground combat units will remain a mystery.
Guam is strategic for the US. If in the past it was not given such great importance, today, against the background of regional alleged conflicts, the island is increasingly strategically important for Washington. The White House has allocated significant funds over the years to improve the island’s defenses. Also from a civilian economy standpoint, the island serves as home to important regional energy platforms and logistics hubs.