USA should build artificial island bases for allies in the age of hypersonic missiles

No one has effective anti-hypersonic missile systems now and there is no anti-hypersonic missile system in development that looks to be very effective or near deployment. This means any major power conflict would make submarines the main effective part of navies or having allied countries with airbases where aircraft can operate.

The US could also spend a few billion dollars for a dredging fleet. The US could help allied countries build artificial islands in key locations like the South China Sea. The US clearly will not be able to win an island construction race with China. However, having more islands and airfields and bases would be effective to ensure the navy and air force could operate under more situations.

China’s strategy of building artificial island bases is an effective strategy to ensure the projection of power. Islands cannot be sunk by missiles. They are larger and can have underground weapons and facilities.

The US and its allies would be able to operate in areas where a smaller country bought a few hypersonic missiles from Russia or China.

The Falkland Islands war showed that without effective anti-missile systems, then current Navy ships are easily sunk by effective anti-ship missiles.

The US Navy has a shortage of submarines because the US cut back after the collapse of the Soviet Union. The US did not decide to build a lot more submarines until recently. The US is choosing not to build many inexpensive submarines. The US is sticking with $2.7-4 billion Virginia attack submarines and $10 billion Columbia nuclear missile launching submarines. If the US just wanted to address the numbers of submarines then the US could buy perfectly effective diesel submarines for $200-400 million. There was a Swedish diesel submarine which performed very effectively against US surface ships in wargames.

The US military system seems to be allergic to spending ten times less for systems that would work. This seems to indicate that actually being prepared in case of a war with China and Russia does not matter to the US military. The actual risk for this scenario is low. The US military industrial complex puts a higher priority on getting more money and profits for each US military system.

Russia, China and US hypersonic missiles

Russia has deployed several hypersonic missiles.

China has deployed hypersonic weapons. China is deploying the DF-21D hypersonic missile. The DF-21D has a range of 1000 miles.

China also has an anti-ship ballistic missile, DF-26, which has a maximum range of 4,000 kilometers (2400 miles) and a payload capacity of 1.8 metric tons.

The US is trying to restart testing of hypersonic missiles in two years. This is not as much of a crisis because in any conflict with any other nation the US can still destroy the opposing military.

However, US getting hypersonic missiles would not protect US aircraft carriers or other US ships from Russian or Chinese missiles. Vulnerable US ships would have to operate 1000-2000 miles away. US aircraft would need to operate from airfields in friendly countries like Japan and South Korea or some long chain of refueling.

The Pentagon is asking Congress to re-allocate $4.7 billion from low priority projects to night-vision goggles, hypersonic weapons and long-range cannons.

Additional US Hypersonic Weapon Funding

$20 million so the Air Force can accelerate development and deployment of a prototype for a “Hypersonic Conventional Strike” air-launched glide munition, with a first test flight in late fiscal 2020. An additional $65 million is requested to accelerate demonstration of a land-launched version. Hypersonic weapons can travel five times the speed of sound, or Mach 5.

More funding for Long range artillery and Patriot Missiles also being added

$46 million to start a Deep Strike Cannon Artillery System technology demonstration program. It’s part of the Army’s Long-Range Precision Strike initiative, the service’s No. 1 modernization priority.

$363 million to buy as many as 100 more of Lockheed Martin Corp.’s most advanced Patriot missile defense interceptors enhanced to allow the weapons to fly higher altitudes at greater speeds.