U.S. Air Force moving two B-2 stealth strategic bombers closer to China

In November 2012, the U.S. Air Forced announced a series of worldwide training deployments to to each of the US combatant command’s areas of responsibility of the stealthy B-2 Spirit bombers.

The “World Spirit Tour”, as the deployment was dubbed by the Air Force Magazine, will bring the first two radar evading planes from the 509th Bomb Wing at Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, to the Pacific theater.

Destination: Andersen Air Force Base.

Strategically located 1,800 miles (about 2,900 km) to the east of China, Andersen has hosted a deployed strategic bomber force since 2004.

Even if the B-52s and B-1s are regularly deployed there, the B-2s were pulled out ot the rotations to Guam in 2010 (when up to six Spirits were temporary stationed there), after a serious engine fire earlier that year and the loss of another example in a 2008 crash.

With the deployment of the Spirit bombers once again to the Pacific atoll and, probably in the near future, in Australia, where the Air Force has announced “future rotational deployments” of its batwing bombers, the U.S. reaffirms the focus on a region where China’s military power is causing concern to Washington and its local allies, some of those dealing with territorial disputes.

B-2s arrive at Andersen

Image source: U.S. Air Force

Although they have proved to be able to conduct no-stop round trip strike missions from Whiteman AFB during the Allied Force in Kosovo in 1999 and, more recently, in Libya, during the 2011’s Air War, the Spirit stealth bombers must be able to operate from forward operating bases across the world.

First of all in the Asia-Pacific region, and then in Central and South America, Southwest Asia, and Europe, where there are no permanently assiged bombers.

It must be remembered that the B-2 is the only platform capable to deliver the Massive Ordnance Penetrator 30,000lb bomb. Capable to destroy bunkers in Syria, Iran. Or North Korea, not far from Guam either…

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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.