The United States is planning to expand its missile defenses in Asia to counter growing threats from North Korea—and seemingly China, reported the Wall Street Journal on Aug. 23. US officials are currently in discussions with the Japanese about placing an X-band missile tracking radar on an undisclosed southern Japanese island to supplement the X-band radar already positioned in northern Japan, according to the report. They are also considering stationing another radar in Southeast Asia, perhaps on the Philippines, states the report. “The focus of our rhetoric is North Korea,” said Steven Hildreth, a missile defense expert with the Congressional Research Service. “The reality is that we’re also looking longer term at the elephant in the room, which is China.” The radars would help guide land-based or shipborne anti-missile interceptors in the event of an attack on the United States or its allies. This planning is said to reflect the Obama administration’s new defense strategy, which places more emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.