U.S., Philippines: A Rocket Deal That Will Make Waves in the South China Sea

Apr 3, 2019 | 21:41 GMT


The waters of the South China Sea could soon be heating up once more. This week, the South China Morning Post reported that the United States and the Philippines discussed the placement of an upgraded High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) in the contested body of water to defend against China's militarization of its artificial islands in the area. But any HIMARS deployment in the South China Sea would put China's artificial islands in the Spratly chain within striking distance. Given that such weapons could upend the balance on the waters, the Philippines (and other neighbors that the United States could approach for a possible sale) are likely to consider the deployment of HIMARS units very carefully. Manila has balked at the price of the rocket-launching system, but such is Washington's desire to roll back Beijing that it could offer a discount to ease the Philippines' financial concerns. If President Rodrigo...

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