The US Army has acquired its first Typhon land-based missile launcher, marking a significant development in its efforts to create a Pacific missile wall to deter China and especially North Korean from shooting nuclear missiles aimed at mainland USA.
Multiple media outlets reported that the US Army had received the first of four prototype Typhon land-based missile launchers as part of its mid-range capability (MRC) program that fills in the service’s requirement for long-range precision fires in the Pacific theater.
The Typhon is designed to fire Standard SM-6 or Tomahawk missiles between 500 and 1,800 km, filling in a gap between the US Army’s precision strike missile (PSM) and the long-range hyper-sonic weapon (LRHW), which have ranges of 482 and 2,776 km.
Each Typhon unit consists of an operations center, four Mk 41-derived vertical launch system (VLS) launchers towed by M983A4 tractor trucks, and associated reloading and ground equipment.
Four Typhon units will compose one battery, with a battery having 16 missiles. The Typhon is also expected to deploy the latest Standard and Tomahawk missile variants.
The latest Standard SM-6 Block IB features a redesigned body and larger rocket motor, which, as noted by The Warzone, potentially gives it improved anti-air and anti-missile capabilities and a possible secondary land-attack function.
Also, the latest Tomahawk Block V missile features new communications, anti-ship capability, and multi-effect warheads.
Asia Times has previously reported on the USMC’s tactical land-attack missile (TLAM) that can be positioned on ships, shores, and islands to provide the Marine Corps with a powerful weapon capable of sinking large enemy warships.
Apart from the TLAM, Asia Times has previously reported on the US Army’s and USMC’s OpFires land-based hyper-sonic weapon project, which possibly marks the high end of the USMC’s planned land-based precision-strike missile capabilities.
Land-based launchers may be more survivable than ship-based systems, providing increased effectiveness for less cost.
They can also complement air and naval power by providing a constant presence on or near contested areas, providing tactical support and operational cover for US and allied forces.
At the strategic level, their mere presence on allied territory makes a pre-emptive strike against them a significant escalation of hostilities.
The Typhon and other similar projects may signify a change in US strategy from doing things itself to enabling its allies to support its efforts through implementing their own anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) bubbles.
The US Pacific Deterrence Initiative envisages creating a precision strike network in the First Island Chain spanning Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines and an integrated air and missile defense network in the Second Island Chain. However, this strategy has its pitfalls.
A 2022 study by RAND Corporation notes that finding a US partner willing to host missile systems such as the Typhon is far more challenging than looking for partners looking to host other types of US military presence, such as air and naval bases.
It says it is doubtful that the Philippines, Thailand or South Korea would be willing to host US ground-based long-range missile systems and that Australia and Japan would be less reluctant to do so, albeit marginally.
The report notes that the Philippines’ unpredictability as an ally, Thailand’s efforts to build better ties with China, and South Korea’s susceptibility to Chinese pressure make them partners unwilling or sub-optimal choices for hosting the Typhon.
Likewise, Australia’s distance from China and public reluctance to get dragged into a conflict are strong reasons against the deployment of the Typhon.
Similarly, Japan’s long-standing reluctance to host explicitly offensive capabilities is a strong argument against the probability of hosting such systems.
Asia Times / ABC Flash Point WW III News 2022.