When the United States withdrew from the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty in 2019, it opened for itself the opportunity to develop and deploy ground-based missiles with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km — what this report calls ground-based intermediate-range missiles (GBIRMs). But the U.S. withdrawal also sparked a debate regarding where the United States could deploy such missiles. This became a critical topic in the Indo-Pacific because China was never a signatory to the INF Treaty, enabling it to develop a wide array of capabilities that the United States was prohibited from fielding.
Considering this threat, the United States has been hoping to develop and deploy a new conventionally armed GBIRM to the Indo-Pacific, but how U.S. allies will respond to Washington’s overtures to host GBIRMs is not clear.
The author analyzes the likelihood of U.S. treaty allies in the Indo-Pacific region—Australia, Japan, the Philippines, the Republic of Korea (ROK), and Thailand—hosting U.S. GBIRMs. Because these countries are unlikely to agree, the author also examines alternatives to permanently basing these missiles on allies’ territories: (1) U.S. co-development of GBIRMs with and/or sales of GBIRMs to an ally for it to command and control, (2) U.S. deployment of GBIRMs to an allied territory in a crisis, (3) peacetime rotational deployment, and (4) deployment on Guam or one of the Compact of Free Association states. Because of drawbacks with each alternative, the author recommends a variation of the first: helping Japan develop an arsenal of ground-based anti-ship standoff missile capabilities.
The research reported here was commissioned by Pacific Air Forces and conducted within the Strategy and Doctrine Program of RAND Project AIR FORCE.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Research report series. RAND reports present research findings and objective analysis that address the challenges facing the public and private sectors. All RAND reports undergo rigorous peer review to ensure high standards for research quality and objectivity.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND’s publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.