Satellite imagery shows a landing site is being constructed by the US military for the Airforce at Tinian International Airport in the Northern Mariana Islands in the Pacific.
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The United States is reportedly building a new military facility in the Pacific, possibly preparing an alternative landing site for its air force should the military installations on Guam become inoperable, according to satellite imagery.
Based on satellite images received by The War Zone on June 15, land-clearing activity has been seen at Tinian International Airport in the Northern Mariana Islands.
The Planet Lab’s past satellite imagery reveals that the site’s construction began in May.
This seems to correspond to the Tinian divert airfield projects, which started in February and are estimated to cost $162 million and be finished by 2025.
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The 36th Wing commander, brigadier-general Jeremy Sloane, underlined the significance of the Tinian divert airfield projects at the first project’s groundbreaking ceremony in February.
Its airfield, roadway, port, and pipeline improvements will provide vital strategic, operational, and exercise capabilities for the U.S. forces and support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief,” Sloane said, DVIDS reported.
The U.S. Defense Department and the Commonwealth of Northern Mariana Islands agreed to a $21.9 million, 40-year lease in May 2019 for the U.S. Air Force’s divert airfield on Tinian.
This was in line with the U.S. Air Force’s 2016 decision to name Tinian International Airport as a backup location in the event that the Andersen Air Force Base in Guam is rendered inoperable as a result of a natural disaster or hostile attack.
Construction of a fuel storage facility, a maintenance facility, and other facilities needed to accommodate cargo and tanker aircraft as well as training exercises would be part of the divert airfield project on Tinian.
US Upgrading Military Bases in Guam to Counter China
According to the Pentagon, in order to “deter potential Chinese military aggression and threats from North Korea,” Washington would concentrate on upgrading and expanding its military bases in Australia and Guam.
The Indo-Pacific area was designated as the U.S. military’s focal point in the review, in which it “directs additional cooperation with allies and partners across the region,” according to Mara Karlin, deputy assistant secretary for policy at the U.S. Department of Defense.
“In Australia, you’ll see new rotational fighter and bomber aircraft deployments, you’ll see ground forces training and increased logistics cooperation,” Karlin said.
“More broadly across the Indo–Pacific, you’ll see a range of infrastructure improvements in Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and Australia.”
Although it gave some information about the future of the military’s global posture, the review was largely classified and was ordered by the Biden administration in February 2021.