[Updated] U.S. amassing B-1 strategic bombers near North Korea

Apr 05 2013 - 24 Comments

Read here the update published on Apr. 06 at 23.05 GMT

It seems like Washington has taken Kim Jong Un threat seriously.

After moving two Langley’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighters to Osan airbase, in South Korea, launching a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber on a round-trip training mission over a South Korean’s gunnery range from the Continental U.S., and deploying THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system to Guam, positioning two guided-missile destroyers in the waters near the Korean peninsula, the Pentagon has decided to strengthen its presence in the region by deploying several B-1 Lancer long range bombers to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.

But, for the first time in the last few weeks, the deployment of the “Bones” to the Pacific atoll was not made public (at least, not yet), a fact that could be the sign that the U.S. is not only making symbolic moves (as the above mentioned ones), but it is preparing for the worst scenario: an attack on North Korea.

From his station in Amarillo, Texas, author, investigative journalist, technologies expert Steve Douglass heard something interesting. In a message he sent us on Facebook he said:

“Late last night I monitored “DARK flight of seven” on PRIME (311.000 MHZ STRATCOM PRIMARY) asking for current weather for UAM [airport code for Guam - Andersen Air Force Base]. On the frequency of 251.100 Mhz,DARK flight also was calling for “GASSR 11 and GASSR 12″ (KC-135s)  for “Tanker drag to BAB [Beale AFB, California]“.

“Dark” is the standard radio callsign for the 7th Bomb Wing’s B-1s based at Dyess AFB, near Abilene, Texas.

Even if U.S. bombers routinely deploy to Guam (where at least two B-2s are reportedly already based), the fact that seven “Bones” were apparently moving together is something a bit unusual, even if they were not going to Andersen AFB (they might need the weather report for UAM because it was an alternate airfield or simply a stopover on their way to somewhere else).

Actually, it’s also weird that some many big bombers were flying together (as the “flight of seven” heard by Douglass seems to suggest) since a standard ferry flight of multiple planes would normally see the aircraft move individually. And, another strange thing is that the pilot talked about their destination in the clear: if they wanted it to be secret, they would speak on secure radios.

Nevertheless, this might have been a non-standard deployment; a move ordered hours after U.S. satellites and spyplanes from South Korea and Japan had spotted North Korean missiles being readied for launch.

B-1B

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

The deployment is not the only interesting thing Douglass, an unsurpassed expert in the field of military monitoring, has heard lately.

Earlier he had intercepted an interesting communication off a military satellite in which an Ellsworth AFB’s B-1B, callsign “Slam 1″, was training to hit a “missile facility” in Snyder, Texas.

A practice run for a mission in the DPRK with a school bus depot standing in for the real thing?

Maybe.

American B-1 bomber pilots have reportedly shifted their training programs, focusing on in East Asia, more than Afghanistan and the Middle East. And, above all, any training mission has many similitarities with actual sorties that would be flown against a real enemy in combat.

Anyway, Douglass has recorded an audio snippet of the exercise (available here). Based on the coordinates for Snyder, Texas here‘s the target on Google Maps.

You can read more about the military air activity recently monitored by Steve Douglass in an extremely interesting article he posted on his blog that not only summarize the contents of the messages he sent to The Aviationist, but provides some more details about the alleged overseas deployment of E-6 Mercury “doomsday” planes from Tinker AFB, Oklahoma.

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  • Bigdirk

    I am now concerned about two things. 1) The US is sitting on a great deal more information about the NK threat, than they are admitting publicly, hence the armed build-up. 2) If NK really is only bluster, then is the US build-up an overreaction or possible even a provocation? What is the US (and now UK) agenda?

    • MedLib

      I’ll pick from option 1 and add in the idea that right now is an important time to justify defense expenditures. Also, a buildup may give Kim Jung Un a face-saving way out of this: He can claim that this buildup is evidence of his provocation and DRPK’s ability to make the Americans and their “puppets” tremble. “I made the Americans blink.” would probably prop up his military credentials quite a bit.

      • Bigdirk

        Sounds fair enough. But after Iraq and Afghanistan and Africa, I wouldn’t rule out option 2 entirely. It could give the US to position their forces more strongly in that part of the world (china etc).

  • Mark

    Am I the only one who does not know what a “Bones” is?

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.woodman.562 Paul Woodman

      B-one(B-1)=bone.

      • Gridlock

        You know how sometimes really really obvious things just completely escape you?

        Yeah, that.

        Knew they were ‘bones’, didn’t know why. Duh.

        • SwimmingTowardsPie

          There’s the explanation above, plus my personal alternate explanation that if the B-1s pay you a visit, you are probably “boned.”

    • http://www.facebook.com/paul.bigornia Paul Bigornia

      “Bones” AKA B-1b Lancer or B-one.

    • http://twitter.com/HomingLasers Revive Revival

      B1-B lancer

  • foxfree

    Japan should use Deimos…
    NK dont want to replace their crap army, so they must create special conditions to force them. US and Russia would have a big deal in that war.

  • Dan Holdsworth

    Given that most of North Korea’s outraged squawkings about US aircraft have been in response to US press releases rather than actual aircraft observation or similar intelligence, it may well be that this loose chat on radio was actually intended to be overheard.

    The US policy here may very well be a variant on gunboat diplomacy (which they invented, remember) whereby a great deal of serious kit is moved very publicly and extremely obviously into places where they can threaten North Korea. The key problem here is how to ensure that North Korea actually realises that the kit is there; their foreign intelligence systems are likely to be pretty abysmal.

  • http://twitter.com/IlkkaTamminen1 Ilkka Tamminen

    Game to Finland you don´t need to bomps you can be part of Europa and some another country’s Mengel action. Here in Finland Huittinen. N-Korea aint use the bops because they know that USA destroy hole N-korea.. I don´t even understand why is S- N Korea because S- Korea people work in N-Korea and month payment is 118 Dollars, so now is question of poor people. But Finland Torture Like Mengel Even European Court Of Human Right Don´t response!!! Here In Finland Ilkka Tamminen ps. Here you can also find In Turku Pulssi Death Engels which wish you death and also pathological laying Doctors which has brain disfunction. Every embassys know but only USA said fuck you or we call a police.. Great Usa Embassy in Finland!!!!

    • asd

      Nukuitko englannin tunnilla?

    • filosofian maisteri

      no mitä vittua…

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/6TSB55ANXSV357NOPZQZTSW2QM P.

    Doesn’t “tanker drag to Beale” mean that the B-1s are flying TO Beale???

    • Kimmy

      I think it means the two tankers refueled the bones before they went over the Pacific, and the tankers returned to Beale. All we know is the bones definitely aren’t at Beale, or really anywhere in the states, nor are they at Anderson.

  • Gridlock

    ForeignPolicy.com is reporting a denial from Andersen (subscription only) that any B-1s are there

  • Bigdirk

    I think the US should send in Bruce Willis. And Chuck Norris!

  • cencio4
  • Bigdirk

    Interesting article on the subject of the “Axis of Evil”.

    Why Do We Laugh at North Korea But Fear Iran? – Julian Hattem – The Atlantic

    http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2013/04/why-do-we-laugh-at-north-korea-but-fear-iran/274680/

  • Not OK

    Way to go. Julian Assange would be proud.

    • Victorinox

      The whole concept of “deterrence” is based on the other side knowing what you are capable of if they make the wrong move…

    • Bigdirk

      Valuable contribution to the conversation. Way to go Not OK :-)

  • Deranged

    The facility at Snyder is an Electronic Bomb Scoring and Electronic Warfare Site. They employ threat emitters Multiple Threat Emitter System’s = MUTES) that simulate in hi-fidelity enemy threat radar systems both ground-based and airborne. Snyder is practically in Dyess’s back yard as the BONE flies.