US-China Tensions In The S. China Sea: Nukes, Bombers, And Land-To-Air Missiles

Friday, August 19, 2016
By Paul Martin

By James Holbrooks
AUGUST 19, 2016

According to a statement released by U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM), for the first time ever, all three of the Air Force’s “strategic power projection bombers” — the B-52, the B-1B, and the B-2 — flew in a single formation on Wednesday near the heavily disputed waters of the South China Sea.

After deploying from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, the bombers “flew a formation pass,” then dispersed and “simultaneously conducted operations in the South China Sea and Northeast Asia,” according to the statement.

“This mission demonstrated the U.S. commitment to support global security and our ability to launch a credible strategic defense force,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox.

Emphasized in the statement is how the exercise gave USPACOM the chance to work and train with “partner nations” in the region and that, as “USPACOM’s area of responsibility covers 52 percent of the globe,” such drills are effective at “assuring our allies while deterring potential adversaries.”

The announcement, and the exercise itself, comes at a time of high tension in the region.

Last week, U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) deployed three nuclear-capable B-2 bombers — one of which flew in Wednesday’s historic formation — to Andersen Air Force Base in purported response to North Korea’s repeated test firings of ballistic missiles. North Korea, perhaps not surprisingly, perceived the move as a sign of imminent aggression on the part of the United States.

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