US redeployment of B-52H in Guam a blatant show of muscle: expert

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/5 23:48:40

File photo shows a Chinese H-6K bomber patrolling islands and reefs including Huangyan Dao in the South China Sea. Photo: Xinhua

The move by the Pentagon to relocate the B-52H strategic bomber to Guam in the western Pacific and dual US aircraft carriers staging exercises in the South China Sea amid large-scale exercises conducted by the People's Liberation Army's Navy in the South China Sea is not a coincidence but a blatant "show of muscle."

The bomber, which is capable of carrying cruise missiles and nuclear bombs, took off from Barksdale Air Force Base in the US on Saturday and arrived at Guam after a 28-hour flight to demonstrate the commitment of the US Indo-Pacific Command to the security and stability of the Indo-Pacific region, Russian media sputnik reported. 

A B-52H bomber took off from its home station and participated in a maritime integration exercise with the USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan carrier strike groups in the South China Sea before landing at Anderson Air Force Base, Guam, the website of the US Pacific Air Forces reported. 

The "Bomber Task Force demonstrates US capability to rapidly deploy to a forward operating base and execute long-range strike missions," said Lt. Col. Christopher Duff, the 96th Bomb Squadron commander. "This sortie demonstrates our ability to reach out from a home station, fly anywhere in the world and execute those missions, rapidly regenerating from a forward operating base and continuing operations."

The US Navy announced on Saturday that two strike groups with the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers USS Nimitz and USS Ronald Reagan as their flagships would begin cruising in the South China Sea. The US Pacific Fleet said that in the course of air defense and air strike operations, aircraft carrier strike groups with frigates will practice against "possible attacks by the enemy."

Bombers including the B-52H, along with intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic nuclear-powered submarines, are regarded as the three major nuclear weapon delivery platforms of the US.  

B-52H bombers can carry up to 31 tons of explosives more than 6,400 kilometers and can carry out its mission alone. The B-52 is the backbone of the US bomber force. It has a history of more than 60 years. The US military is expected to use the B-52 bomber until 2050.

Wang Ya'nan, an expert on aircraft and chief editor of Aerospace Knowledge, told the Global Times on Sunday that it is not a coincidence but collusion between the redeployment of B-52H and the maritime drill in the South China Sea in order to display the US' long-range strike force in Guam. It is also aimed to show the muscle of US aircraft carrier battle group.  

Wang said that the US military is apparently aiming to "show off its muscle." 

"By conducting massive military exercises in the South China Sea, they intend to show their forces more clearly to China," Wang said.

Wang believes that the US' B52 and B1B bombers all carry anti-ship missiles, but are not usually used in massive military exercises. 

The US previously deployed B-1B bombers, which carried long-range anti-ship missiles, for patrol missions while B-52H bombers have showed different powers in different exercises depending on the subjects, according to Wang.     

"The most powerful display of the B-52H is in live fire exercises at sea, while the bombers also have the ability for air refueling and loaded cruising," Wang said.

According to the website of the US Pacific Air Forces, B-52H bombers and carrier-borne aircraft have conducted flying in formation.

The B-52H strategic bomber was deployed again in Guam after three months. On April 17, the US military withdrew five B-52H bombers deployed at Anderson Air Force Base in Guam from the Guam base. This is the first time the B-52 bomber has been completely withdrawn from Guam base since 2004.

The redeployment of the B-52H to Guam further embodies the US military's combat concept of a "dynamic force employment." Its purpose is to make major military deployments unpredictable so as to make potential opponents such as China and Russia nervous, analysts said. 

Therefore, it can be predicted that the redeployed B-52H strategic bomber will perform cruise operations in the waters near the South China Sea and the East China Sea to flex their muscles, they said. 

Wang said US bomber forces will continue to exist in Guam. Although the B52 has a long history, it is equipped with a long-range precision guided weapon that can be launched in the air. Its targets can include surface ships targets in the nearby waters centered on Guam or even further away. 

In other words, it can constitute a relatively large threat to US marine opponents. The US military now regards the Guam base as a base with sea power advantages over the entire West Pacific, Wang said. 

Posted in: MILITARY

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