PEOPLE AND PLACES

PEOPLE AND PLACES

Thursday, August 17, 2017




Bristling in Mad Kim’s crosshairs: Inside Trump’s air force and naval bases on Guam where an awesome arsenal is locked, loaded and ready to launch fire and fury on North Korea


  • Exclusive first look at Trump's arsenal of ships, plans and weaponry in Guam 
  • Includes F-16 fighter jets lined up along a runway ready to scramble in an instant 
  • Comes as President Trump ratcheted up his rhetoric promising 'fire and fury' 

US bombers take off from Guam air force base for joint exercise with Japan in show of strength after threats from North Korea


The technological challenges that North Korea needs to overcome to hit a major American city with a nuclear weapon


  • North Korea may soon have the ability to hit a major US city with a nuclear bomb
  • This would give the North a chilling new influence over western nations 
  • But there are still some key technological challenges the North must overcome
  • Officials must develop a more accurate missile that can survive re-entry
  • They also need to ensure the warhead will get past anti-missile security systems 

North Korea could soon have the ability to hit a major US city with a nuclear weapon, granting leader Kim Jong-un a chilling new influence over the west.
While launching a strike on the United States would prove deadly for North Korea, the technology could help deter an invasion and establish the North as a global military power.
Experts estimate North Korea could develop missiles capable of hitting the US as early as next year, and some suggest it already has them.
  • Here are some of the key technological challenges the North faces before reaching that goal, as reported by the New York Times.
    Scroll down for video 
    North Korea could soon have the ability to hit a major US city with a nuclear weapon, granting leader Kim Jong-un a chilling new influence over the west. But the North still faces key technological challenges (pictured)  before reaching that goal
    North Korea could soon have the ability to hit a major US city with a nuclear weapon, granting leader Kim Jong-un a chilling new influence over the west. But the North still faces key technological challenges (pictured) before reaching that goal

    A small enough bomb - probably already completed

    Experts have long debated whether North Korea has developed a powerful nuclear bomb that is also small and light enough to fit into the nose cone of a missile.
    The smaller and lighter the missile's payload is, the further it can travel.
    Last year, officials released a press photo of Kim Jon-un next to what appeared to be a small, shiny bomb.
    The bomb appeared to be around two-feet wide, making it small enough to fit inside an ICBM warhead.
    North Korean  said in July it had successfully tested (pictured) an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time
    North Korean said in July it had successfully tested (pictured) an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time
    While we can't know whether the photo shows a real missile, a mock-up or a fake designed to strike fear in the west, nuclear experts say that the North likely has succeeded in making a small enough nuclear bomb to fit inside an ICBM.
    Joshua Pollack, a leading expert on nuclear missile proliferation, told the New York Times: 'Any country that has conducted five nuclear tests can probably do it.
    'I give them the benefit of the doubt.'
    While launching a strike on the United States would prove deadly for North Korea, the technology could help deter an invasion and establish the North as a global military power. Pictured is North Korea leader Kim Jong-un during an ICBM test in July
    While launching a strike on the United States would prove deadly for North Korea, the technology could help deter an invasion and establish the North as a global military power. Pictured is North Korea leader Kim Jong-un during an ICBM test in July

    NORTH KOREA'S ICBM PROGRAMME 

    The intercontinental ballistic missiles North Korea tested in July are likely capable of reaching 3,400 miles (5,500 km).
    Pyongyang is subject to multiple sets of United Nations sanctions over its atomic and missile programs, which it says it needs to protect itself against a possible invasion.
    It regularly issues bloodcurdling threats against its 'imperialist enemy' Washington, and has long sought a rocket capable of delivering a warhead to the continental United States.
    The progress has accelerated especially after young leader Kim Jong-Un took power following the death of his father, longtime ruler Kim Jong-Il, in 2011.
    Pyongyang has staged five atomic tests - including two last year - with the regime stepping up efforts to produce a nuclear warhead small enough to fit into a missile. Surviving re-entry - expected next year
    Building a missile warhead that can withstand the extreme heat and forces of atmospheric re-entry is exceptionally difficult.
    Upon re-entering Earth's atmosphere from space, warheads will travel as fast as four miles (6.5 km) per second.
    The friction against the planet's atmosphere that this generates means that poorly designed warheads will burn up long before they reach their target.
    Experts estimate North Korea could develop missiles capable of hitting the US as early as next year, and some suggest it already has them. It currently does not have missiles capable of re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere, but should have developed the technology by 2019
    Experts estimate North Korea could develop missiles capable of hitting the US as early as next year, and some suggest it already has them. It currently does not have missiles capable of re-entry through the Earth's atmosphere, but should have developed the technology by 2019
    Some ICBMs are coated with thick materials to create a shield that deflects heat into the missile's wake.
    But the forces at work are so great that even the slightest production fault can lead to uneven burns that throw the missile off-target.
    Experts claim that if North Korea keeps up its current rate of missile testing, it will likely have a warhead capable of re-entry by next year.
    North Korea successfully tested two Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July this year. Experts say the second of these tests appeared capable of reaching the US West Coast, with major cities Denver and Chicago potentially in range 
    North Korea successfully tested two Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July this year. Experts say the second of these tests appeared capable of reaching the US West Coast, with major cities Denver and Chicago potentially in range 

    Reaching the US mainland - probably already completed

    HOW FAR WOULD A MISSILE HAVE TO TRAVEL FROM PYONG YANG TO HIT MAJOR CITIES? 

    US Naval Base in Guam: 2,114 miles (3,402 km)
    Hawaii: 4,727 miles (7,670 km)
    London (over mainland Europe): 5,379 miles (8,657 km)
    San Francisco:  5,588 miles (8,993 km)
    Los Angeles: 5,935 miles (9,551 km)
    New York: 6,783 miles (10,916 km)
    Washington, DC: 6,857 miles (11,035 km)
    North Korea successfully tested two Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in July this year.
    Experts say the second of these tests appeared capable of reaching the US West Coast, with major cities Denver and Chicago potentially in range.
    The missile reached an altitude of about 1,900 miles (3,000km) and landed in the sea off Japan.
    The tests follow years of rejected long-distance models and empty claims made by North Korean officials.
    A powerful new engine design is likely behind the sudden technological advances seen this year, making the North's missiles more durable and reliable than ever before.
    It potentially puts the US in range of North Korean missiles for the first time since the country began building long-range missiles in 1984.
    North Korea fires first intercontinental ballistic missile
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    Better accuracy - good enough but not perfect

    Accurately guiding a missile halfway around the world is no easy task, and North Korea's aim has historically been poor.
    Countries with advanced ICBM programmes can consistently hit within 200 metres (650 ft) of a target.
    Estimates put North Korea's ICBM accuracy closer to a 3-5 kilometre (2-3 mile) range, though this figure is difficult to confirm as most of the nation's missiles land in the ocean, and analysts know little of their designated targets.
    Last year, officials released a press photo of Kim Jon-un next to what appeared to be a small, shiny bomb (pictured). The bomb appeared to be around two-feet wide, making it small enough to fit inside an ICBM warhead
    Last year, officials released a press photo of Kim Jon-un next to what appeared to be a small, shiny bomb (pictured). The bomb appeared to be around two-feet wide, making it small enough to fit inside an ICBM warhead
    But despite the North's inferior accuracy, 'that’s good enough if you’re aiming at a city,' Ian Williams, a missile defence expert at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, DC, told the New York Times.
    North Korea will have to improve the accuracy of its missiles if it wishes to reliably hit smaller targets, such as military bases, Mr Williams said.
    Experts say that while North Korea currently uses a cheap, blunt warhead that limits speed and accuracy, it appears to be developing more streamlined, conical warheads.

    INTERCONTINENTAL BALLISTIC MISSILES

    An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is a guided ballistic missile with a minimum range of 3,400 miles (5,500 km) - further than any other missile. 
    ICBM missiles were first developed during World War II, and countries around the world have now worked to create their own missiles and defence systems against them.
    ICBM launches have three distinct phases of flight.
    During the boost phase, a rocket launches the warhead at high speeds above the atmosphere, where it continues in free-fall through the vacuum of space.
    The second, 'midcourse' phase begins with the rocket separating from the warhead, which continues unguided and unpowered, hundreds of miles above the Earth.
    The reentry, or terminal, phase sees the warhead descend at high speeds back through the Earth's atmosphere toward the ground. 
    The missiles are primarily designed for nuclear weapons delivery, though they can also be used to deliver conventional, chemical or biological weapons. 
    The isolated, impoverished country has made great progress in its missile capabilities since the ascension to power of Kim (pictured), who has overseen three nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches
    The isolated, impoverished country has made great progress in its missile capabilities since the ascension to power of Kim (pictured), who has overseen three nuclear tests and multiple rocket launches

    Get past US anti-missile defences - nobody knows

    An anti-missile system has never been used on an ICBM beyond choreographed tests, and even then the costly systems have often missed their mock targets.
    If North Korea were to fire three or four ICBMs at the same US city, security systems would likely be overwhelmed and miss at least one of the incoming warheads.
    Analysts say the North is currently looking to improve its ICBMs' anti-missile system penetrative abilities.
    In March it fired four missiles in a salvo, which would make it extremely difficult for US systems to shoot every missile down.
    North Korea recently displayed a missile warhead that had fins, suggesting it is investing in ICBMs that can zigzag through the air to avoid defence systems.
    Despite the imperfect accuracy of North Korea's latest test missiles (pictured), they are likely good enough to reliably hit a major US city provided they can make the distance
    Despite the imperfect accuracy of North Korea's latest test missiles (pictured), they are likely good enough to reliably hit a major US city provided they can make the distance

    A more powerful bomb - much more work needed

    Based on nuclear detonations at North Korea's underground test sites, experts say Kim Jong-un currently possesses bombs with the same destructive power as the Hiroshima nuclear explosion.
    The bomb destroyed an entire city and killed 70,000 people with its initial blast, with tens of thousands more following as a result of radioactive fallout.
    Making a more powerful ICBM than this that is still small and lightweight requires thermonuclear fuel, which would upgrade North Korea's arsenal into hydrogen bombs.
    Based on nuclear detonations at North Korea's underground test sites, experts say Kim Jong-un currently possesses bombs with the same destructive power as the Hiroshima nuclear explosion. Pictured is the world's first nuclear bomb, 'the gadget', tested in August 1945
    Based on nuclear detonations at North Korea's underground test sites, experts say Kim Jong-un currently possesses bombs with the same destructive power as the Hiroshima nuclear explosion. Pictured is the world's first nuclear bomb, 'the gadget', tested in August 1945
    This would be extremely difficult to achieve, but could produce weapons with up to 1,000 times the destructive power of the North's current warheads.
    North Korea has shown great interest in developing hydrogen bombs, but experts are clueless as to how far off they are from developing one.
    The clearest indicator would be the detection of a very large underground blast from one of the North's testing sites. 

    NORTH KOREA'S MISSILE DEVELOPMENT: A TIMELINE

    North Korea on Tuesday said it had tested an intercontinental ballistic missile, as its decades-long weapons program reached a grave new phase.
    Here are key dates in Pyongyang's quest to develop a missile capable of hitting the United States:
    Late 1970s: Starts working on a version of the Soviet Scud-B (range 300 kilometres or 186 miles). Test-fired in 1984
    1987-92: Begins developing variant of Scud-C (500 km), Rodong-1 (1,300 km), Taepodong-1 (2,500 km), Musudan-1 (3,000 km) and Taepodong-2 (6,700 km)
    Aug 1998: Test-fires Taepodong-1 over Japan as part of failed satellite launch
    Sept 1999: Declares moratorium on long-range missile tests amid improving ties with US
    July 12, 2000: Fifth round of US-North Korean missile talks ends without agreement after North demands $1 billion a year in return for halting missile exports
    March 3, 2005: North ends moratorium on long-range missile testing, blames Bush administration's 'hostile' policy
    July 5, 2006: North test-fires seven missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 which explodes after 40 seconds
    Oct 9, 2006: North conducts underground nuclear test, its first
    April 5, 2009: North Korea launches long-range rocket which flies over Japan and lands in the Pacific, in what it says is an attempt to put a satellite into orbit. The United States, Japan and South Korea see it as a disguised test of a Taepodong-2
    May 25, 2009: North conducts its second underground nuclear test, several times more powerful than the first
    April 13, 2012: North launches what it has said is a long-range rocket to put a satellite into orbit, but it disintegrates soon after blast-off
    December 12, 2012: North launches a multi-stage rocket and successfully places an Earth observational satellite in orbit
    February 12, 2013: Conducts its third underground nuclear test
    January 6, 2016: North conducts its fourth underground nuclear test, which it says was of a hydrogen bomb -- a claim doubted by most experts
    March 9, 2016: Kim Jong-Un claims the North has successfully miniaturised a thermo-nuclear warhead
    April 23, 2016: North test-fires a submarine-launched ballistic missile
    July 8, 2016: US and South Korea announce plans to deploy an advanced missile defence system -- THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense)
    August 3, 2016: North Korea fires a ballistic missile directly into Japan's maritime economic zone for the first time
    September 9, 2016: Fifth nuclear test
    March 6, 2017: North fires four ballistic missiles in what it says is an exercise to hit US bases in Japan
    March 7, 2017: US begins deploying THAAD missile defence system in South Korea
    May 14, 2017: North fires a ballistic missile which flies 700 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan. Analysts say it has an imputed range of 4,500 kilometres and brings Guam within reach
    July 4, 2017: North Korea test-fires a ballistic missile which flies 930 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan. Analysts say it has an imputed range of 6,700 kilometres and brings Alaska within reach. Pyongyang later says it was a 'landmark' test of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

    Japan conducted air drills with US bombers near the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, Japan's Air Self Defence Force said in a news release.
    The exercise involved two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and two Japanese F-15 jet fighters.
    'These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,' the US Air Force said.
    The exercise saw the planes reach the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands East China Sea. 
    The US aircraft have flown several sorties in East Asia in recent weeks. In addition to air drills with Japanese fighters, the bombers have also exercised with South Korean aircraft.
    North Korea regards the US exercises with South Korea and Japan as preparations for invasion. The exercises also upset China, which says they do nothing to ease tension. 
    The American territory of Guam remains on high alert as a showdown between the US and North Korea continues. North Korea said that it was planning to launch four missiles near Guam by the middle of August.
    Japan conducted air manoeuvers with US bombers near the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, Japan's Air Self Defence Force said in a news release
    Japan conducted air manoeuvers with US bombers near the Korean peninsula on Wednesday, Japan's Air Self Defence Force said in a news release
    The exercise involved two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and two Japanese F-15 jet fighters
    The exercise involved two US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam and two Japanese F-15 jet fighters
    'These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,' the US Air Force said
    'These training flights with Japan demonstrate the solidarity and resolve we share with our allies to preserve peace and security in the Indo-Asia-Pacific,' the US Air Force said
    The US aircraft have flown several sorties in East Asia in recent weeks. In addition to air drills with Japanese fighters, the bombers have also exercised with South Korean aircraft
    The US aircraft have flown several sorties in East Asia in recent weeks. In addition to air drills with Japanese fighters, the bombers have also exercised with South Korean aircraft
    North Korea regards the US exercises with South Korea and Japan as preparations for invasion. The exercises also upset China, which says they do nothing to ease tension
    North Korea regards the US exercises with South Korea and Japan as preparations for invasion. The exercises also upset China, which says they do nothing to ease tension
    Pictured, two US Air Force Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bombers preparing to fly a bilateral mission with Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15 jets in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands, East China Sea
    Pictured, two US Air Force Rockwell B-1B Lancer strategic bombers preparing to fly a bilateral mission with Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15 jets in the vicinity of the Senkaku Islands, East China Sea
    The American territory of Guam remains on high alert as a showdown between the U.S. and North Korea continues. North Korea has said that it is planning to launch four missiles near Guam by the middle of August
    The American territory of Guam remains on high alert as a showdown between the U.S. and North Korea continues. North Korea has said that it is planning to launch four missiles near Guam by the middle of August
    Guam home to about 7,000 American troops and 160,000 residents. Pictured, Air Force Rockwell B-1 Lancer
    Guam home to about 7,000 American troops and 160,000 residents. Pictured, Air Force Rockwell B-1 Lancer
    Pictured, U.S. Air Force Rockwell B-1 Lancer takes off from Andersen Air Force base on August 17, 2017 in Yigo, Guam
    Pictured, U.S. Air Force Rockwell B-1 Lancer takes off from Andersen Air Force base on August 17, 2017 in Yigo, Guam






    The guns are locked and loaded, the F-16 fighter jets line up along the runway ready to scramble at a moment’s notice and the military, as their motto proudly proclaims, are ‘Ready to fight tonight’.


    North Korea stands no chance against US, Guam threat is a bluff 



    North Korea wouldn’t stand a chance against the US if the war of words between the two states escalates into a military conflict, Leonid Ivashov, a political analyst and retired Russian Colonel-General, told RT, urging a diplomatic solution to the crisis.
    “It’s a total mismatch,” Ivashov, who currently heads the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, said of the possible confrontation between Washington and Pyongyang.
    “The US is a superpower, while North Korea is a small regional player. North Korea can’t compete with America on any level,” he said.
    President Donald Trump needs to strengthen his position in Washington, and the American attack on North Korea “can’t be ruled out,” Ivashov said.
    According to the retired colonel-general, modern surveillance technologies allow the US to know “the exact location of all missile systems and nuclear production facilities” possessed by Pyongyang.
    “The Americans can strike North Korea – its nuclear missile development centers, industrial facilities; try to eliminate everything that North Korea created in terms of medium-range and long-range missiles and nuclear production,” he said.
    The American B-1 bombers will be able to inflict significant damage on Pyongyang’s underground nuclear development facilities and missile silos, “taking into account the weakness of the North Korean anti-missile defense,” Ivashov said.
    He was also skeptical about Pyongyang’s threats to target the US territory of Guam in case of an attack.
    “To some extent, it’s a bluff on the part of North Korea; an attempt to save face and avert the American blow through international rhetoric,” he said.
    “The US has a powerful anti-missile defense system off the coast of the Korean Peninsula… which may well intercept Pyongyang’s missiles. The Guam Air Base, which North Korea is planning to attack, is also covered by the US anti-missile defense,” Ivashov added.
    Earlier this week, North Korea said that it would fire ballistic missiles in the direction of Guam sometime in mid-August as a rehearsal of war with the US.
    The announcement was made after Trump promised “fire and fury” against Pyongyang if it continued tests aimed at developing nuclear-capable long-range ballistic missiles.

    On Friday, Trump came up with another bellicose statement, warning the North on Twitter that “military solutions are now fully in place, locked and loaded, should North Korea act unwisely.”
    According to Ivashov, North Korea is still capable of inflicting “some damage” on the US, but it will be incomparable to the blow the Americans will deliver.

    In the latest round of a series of escalating and terrifying threats, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un’s Stalinist regime has vowed to fire four ballistic missiles at the island.
    As President Trump ratcheted up his bellicose rhetoric, promising ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’, the 7,000 US military personnel on the island calmly prepared for battle.

    President Trump has ratcheted up his bellicose rhetoric, promising ‘fire and fury like the world has never seen’, the 7,000 US military personnel on the island calmly prepared for battle
    Two SSN 688-class submarines and their supply ship, the USS Emory S Land, in Apra Harbour. The subs are equipped with 12 Vertical Launch System tubes for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. At 360ft and 6,927 tons submerged, they are powered by nuclear reactors and are perfect for strike warfare 
    Two SSN 688-class submarines and their supply ship, the USS Emory S Land, in Apra Harbour. The subs are equipped with 12 Vertical Launch System tubes for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. At 360ft and 6,927 tons submerged, they are powered by nuclear reactors and are perfect for strike warfare 
    ‘We are constantly in a high state of readiness,’ said military spokesman Greg Kuntz. ‘The systems are here, we are in place and we are ready to go.’
    The Mail on Sunday visited Naval Base Guam and Andersen Air Force Base on the US territory and vital strategic outpost, population 162,000, just 2,000 miles from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, from where Jong Un has threatened to launch his weapons, possibly as early as next week, to create a ‘historic enveloping fire’ around the tropical isle.
    We witnessed first-hand the extraordinary, multi-billion-pound military might the world’s greatest superpower has amassed on Guam.
    They include £1.7 billion nuclear-powered attack submarines, B-1B Lancer bombers capable of ‘obliterating’ North Korea’s underground missile bunkers, littoral combat ships designed for a sea- to-land invasion and the biggest weapons cache in the Pacific, 7,500 tons of explosives and munitions, stored in dozens of igloo-shaped reinforced concrete bunkers.
    The collection of firepower nestling under swaying palm trees and languishing in crystal-clear tropical waters was a breathtaking – if surreal – sight.
    Naval Base Guam is a 15-minute drive from the tourist centre of Tumon, a bustling area filled with shops selling trinkets emblazoned with the stars and stripes and Guam’s motto: ‘Where America’s Day Begins’ (because of its geographical location, Guam is the first US land mass to see sunrise).
    The Mail on Sunday's Caroline Graham: We witnessed first-hand the extraordinary, multi-billion-pound military might the world’s greatest superpower has amassed on Guam
    The Mail on Sunday's Caroline Graham: We witnessed first-hand the extraordinary, multi-billion-pound military might the world’s greatest superpower has amassed on Guam
    Donald Trump: Kim Jong Un 'will truly regret' attack on USA
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    Guam became a US territory in 1898 during the Spanish-American war. Residents do not pay American taxes or vote in presidential elections but are US citizens by birth. The moist tropical air is thick and causes everyone, especially those in uniform, to sweat profusely within seconds of leaving an air-conditioned car or building.
    At Shamrock’s Irish bar, manager and former soldier Sean Hale, 37, whose mother is from Tipperary, said business has slumped since the crisis escalated in recent days. He said: ‘Normally we’re packed on Friday and Saturday nights but it’s dead this week. The guys are staying on base.
    ‘They are not drinking. They are hanging in their dorms, going to the gym. They know they have to be ready to go at a moment’s notice.’
    Driving past postcard-perfect beaches filled with tourists, mostly from South Korea and Japan, stray chickens run along the grass verges outside ubiquitous American staples like McDonald’s and KFC.
    In the latest round of a series of escalating and terrifying threats, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un’s Stalinist regime has vowed to fire four ballistic missiles at the island
    In the latest round of a series of escalating and terrifying threats, North Korean tyrant Kim Jong Un’s Stalinist regime has vowed to fire four ballistic missiles at the island
    Kim Jong Un smiles with generals as jets pound war games targets
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    THE BACKBONE OF AMERICA'S BOMBER FORCE  

    The BL-1B carries the largest payload in the USAF and holds almost 50 world records for speed and range.
    The BL-1B carries the largest payload in the USAF and holds almost 50 world records for speed and range.
    The BI-1B Lancer is the backbone of America's long-range bomber force. 
    It carries the largest payload in the USAF and holds almost 50 world records for speed and range. 
    The views of the Pacific, azure blue and dotted with surfers and snorkellers, give way to military signs touting ‘Marine Drive’ before you reach the stone-arched gateway to the naval base. Inside lies a sprawling collection of buildings and jetties around Apra Harbor, home to the elite Naval Special Warfare Unit One and Submarine Squadron 15 and the US Coast Guard.
    Two of the four 688-class SSN submarines based at the station are tied up in the harbour.
    Alongside is the USS Emory S. Land, a submarine tender and support vessel whose claim to fame is that it featured prominently in bestselling US author Don Brown’s 2012 thriller Fire Of The Raging Dragon about a fictional future war in the South China Sea.
    The USS Coronado has just arrived in port. She is an Independence-class littoral combat ship, designed for speed around a trimaran hull and built to allow marines rapid access in shallow coastal waters – like those around the Korean peninsula.
    Thirty miles away, at the northern tip of Guam, is Andersen Air Force Base. It is here that any attack on North Korea would begin.
    Last month, after North Korea launched its latest ballistic missile test, two B-1B Lancers left Andersen and flew over the Korean peninsula in a show of force.
    The USS Coronado is an Independence-class littoral combat ship, designed for speed around a trimaran hull and built to allow marines rapid access in shallow coastal waters – like those around the Korean peninsula
    The USS Coronado is an Independence-class littoral combat ship, designed for speed around a trimaran hull and built to allow marines rapid access in shallow coastal waters – like those around the Korean peninsula

    'DO NOT LOOK AT THE FLASH OR FIREBALL - IT CAN BLIND YOU' 

    Authority's in Guam issued the guide to residents on how to survive a nuclear attack by North Korea 
    Authority's in Guam issued the guide to residents on how to survive a nuclear attack by North Korea 
    Guam authorities issued a chilling guide to surviving a nuclear attack on Friday which warned: ‘Do not look at the flash or fireball – it can blind you.’
    Hotel manager Ermar Reyes, a father of four, said: ‘Everyone’s stocking up on food and water. When you live on Guam, you are used to typhoon warnings but this is the first time they’ve issued a nuclear guide. It’s chilling.’
    Several of the F-16s are airborne during our visit. No operational details of exercise missions are made public, but locals have reported higher than normal sightings of F-16s and other aircraft, including maritime patrol planes and refuelling tankers, in the skies in recent days. Asked about reports that North Korean missiles could strike Guam within 14 minutes of launch, a military insider laughed: ‘They’ll never get this far.’
    Andersen is home to THAAD, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, a multi-billion-dollar state-of-the-art system designed to engage ‘multiple targets simultaneously’ using radar and interceptors fired from trucks.
    Developed after Iraq’s Scud missile attacks during the first Gulf War in 1991, it is designed to shoot down short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles as they descend towards Earth.
    A sleek B-1B Lancer bomber is parked on the runway. Nicknamed ‘The Bone’ (from B-One), the supersonic bombers cost £250 million each and can fly at Mach 1.25.
    This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM
    This photo distributed by the North Korean government shows what was said to be the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile, ICBM
    A PAC-3 interceptor is deployed in the compound of a garrison of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in Konan
    A PAC-3 interceptor is deployed in the compound of a garrison of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force in Konan
    It comes after Pyongyang carried out missile test launches. The US and the rogue state have exchanged fierce rhetoric in recent months
    It comes after Pyongyang carried out missile test launches. The US and the rogue state have exchanged fierce rhetoric in recent months
    North Korea: US Ambassador warns diplomatic solution 'disappearing'
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    Carrying a huge payload of conventional or nuclear weapons, there are thought to be at least six B-1Bs at Andersen. They would serve as the first line of attack should Trump order a military strike. America would be likely to use stealth bombers such as F-22s, F-35s and B-2s alongside the B-1Bs to, as one source told me, ‘obliterate the missile bunkers, the missiles and Long Dong Kim if it comes to it’.
    In military-speak, Guam is a ‘power projection platform’.
    Lieutenant Colonel Chris Occhiuzzo, deputy operations group commander, says: ‘We train every day. We don’t train for any specific threat. We are ready to fight tonight.’
    One of the most extraordinary sights on the base is a line of ‘Hayman igloos’. The storage units, along a half-mile-long road, are packed with 7,500 tons of explosives and weaponry: the largest cache of munitions and explosives in the Pacific region.
    ‘This is one of the most strategically important bases for the US in the world,’ one airman tells me. ‘When weeks like this happen, the world focuses on Guam, a place most people couldn’t even find on the map. But it is a critical base for the US 365 days a year.’
    One of two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers is refueled during a 10-hour mission flying to the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan
    One of two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers is refueled during a 10-hour mission flying to the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan
    On Andersen, so big it feels eerily quiet, the only openly busy place on a Saturday afternoon is the PX shop, known as ‘The Exchange’.
    The car park is full of vehicles, their bumper stickers declaring Freedom is Not Free and Heroes Don’t Wear Capes, They Wear Dog Tags. There are 7,000 military men and women on Guam and another 7,000 family members. Inside the PX, wives stock up on groceries but also luxuries at the in-store Victoria’s Secret lingerie outlet.
    ‘Nothing gets in the way of combat shopping,’ a source joked. ‘This is the most action at the base outside of the runways. The wives never know when their men might be called to action. Shopping is a necessity but also a good tension buster.’
    There is a stoicism to the islanders but also very real concerns. The latest rumour spreading like wildfire is that an attack could come as early as tomorrow or Tuesday.
    Boutique worker Padgy Conlu, 28, is married to a soldier. ‘My husband tells me not to worry, that everything is under control but, of course, I worry for my family,’ she said.
    Like many here, she is critical of Trump for ratcheting up the rhetoric against the ‘crazy’ North Koreans. ‘I agree with the President on many things but not this,’ she said, shaking her head.
    ‘What will any of this accomplish? You don’t argue with a crazy man. Trump needs to calm things down.
    ‘No one wants to go to war. We just want this whole thing to settle down and go away. We just want to go back to our quiet island life.’
    However, if the US, and, potentially, long-standing allies such as the UK, have to go to war, the forces on Guam are prepared.

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