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US heavy bombers are frequently tearing across China’s backyard

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B 52s.JPG
A
pair of B-52H Stratofortress bombers


U.S.
Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gerald R.
Willis



  • US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range
    bombers, powerful weapons of war, have made multiple flights
    through the East and South China Seas this month.
  • These flights are part of US Indo-Pacific Command’s
    Continuous Bomber Presence mission, which aims to strengthen
    America’s deterrence in the face of emerging
    threats. 
  • News of these flights comes on heels of the Pentagon
    report that China’s bombers are increasingly active in the
    region, often pushing the limits to project power at greater
    distances.

Several US Air Force B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range
bombers have flown through the contested East and South China
Seas multiple times this month, sending an unmistakable message
to potential challengers.

Four flights involving no more than two bombers each time were
carried out in the disputed seas as part of US
Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) mission.
Two B-52s assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomber Squadron
(EBS) participated in joint anti-submarine training exercises
with two US Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft on Aug. 1 in the East
China Sea, US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF)
said
in an official statement.

“Ultimately, it increased our readiness to serve as a
credible deterrent force and presence within the theater,” Maj.
John Radtke, 96th EBS mission planner, explained.

One B-52 bomber out of Andersen Air Force Base on Guam
participated in a CBP training mission in the East China Sea on
Aug. 22, PACAF public affairs told Business Insider, adding that
two more B-52s with the 96th EBS conducted CBP operations in the
South China Sea on Aug. 27. It is unclear if the bombers flew
past Chinese occupied territories in the area, as PACAF refused
to provide the information, citing “operational security
concerns.”

The flights were initially detected by Aircraft Spots, on
online military aircraft tracking site.

 

The site’s latest flight tracking data suggested that two more
B-52s conducted exercises in the South China Sea Thursday, which
would mean that American heavy bombers have been active in the
disputed waterway twice in the past week. PACAF confirmed in a
public statement the Aug. 30 flight following queries from
Business Insider.

Is the US trying to exert more pressure on China’s trade
by sending a B-52 bombers to the South China Sea?” China’s
nationalist state-affiliated tabloid Global Times asked in an
editorial Thursday.

The CBP flights are “flown in accordance with international
law” and are consistent with America’s “long-standing and
well-known freedom of navigation policies,” PACAF public affairs
said. China has often expressed frustration with the US position
on this particular matter.

In early June, a pair of B-52s ripped across the South
China Sea, causing the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to
accuse the US of “running amok” in the region. China foreign
ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said
at the time, “We will only even more staunchly take all necessary
steps to defend the country’s sovereignty and security, to
protect the peace and stability of the South China Sea
region.”

The US Air Force similarly
sent
B-52s into the South China Sea in late April.

In response to questions about a possible B-52 overflight
in the East China Sea last week, foreign ministry spokesman Lu
Kang
said
, “We hope that actions taken in this region by any
country could help enhance mutual trust and show respect for the
legitimate security interests of regional countries. Nothing that
undermines mutual trust and regional security and stability shall
happen.”

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense has warned
repeatedly that China “will firmly defend the sovereign security
and territorial integrity of the country.”

News of the recent bomber flights in the East and South
China Sea come just after the Department of Defense released its
annual report on Chinese military power. The report specifically
noted that Chinese bombers were operating with increased
frequency in flashpoint zones in the region.

“The [People’s Liberation Army] has rapidly expanded its
overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical
maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and
allied targets,” the report
explained.
 “The PLA may continue to extend its
operations beyond the first island chain, demonstrating the
capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in
the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.”

The Pentagon has noted that the Chinese air force is pushing to
become a “strategic” force capable of power projection.

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