Two U.S. B-52 strategic bombers enter China’s new Air Defense Identification Zone over disputed islands

File photo of a B-52 being refueled by a KC-135. (Image credit: USAF)

A flight of two U.S. B-52 bombers have reportedly entered the new Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) over East China Sea on Nov. 25 without informing Beijing, according to a U.S. official who spoke to the Wall Street Journal.

The two aircraft departed from Guam airbase and flew close to the disputed islands without complying with any of the rules set by Beijing for the new ADIZ over Diaoyu Islands (known as Senkaku islands in Japan).

The question is: did China’s air defense detect them? Did they try to intercept the two B-52s?

The two bombers, unarmed and not escorted by any fighter plane, were involved in a previous planned exercise dubbed “Coral Lightening”.

Even if the U.S. has already flown “extended deterrence” missions in the Asia-Pacific region in the past, this is an unprecedented direct challenge to China and its threats to Washington’s local allies.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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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.


  1. Just a few hard facts first:

    1. Japan had ADIZ since 1969, the area of Japan’s ADIZ is 5 times the Japan’s domestic territory area. While China’s ADIZ area is a fraction (<10%) of their territory area.
    2. US developed the ADIZ back in 1950.
    3. There are 20+ countries had their own ADIZ in this world, including Korea, Japan, RC (republic of China, Taiwan area), Phillipine, etc.
    4. China publicly acknowledged they may consider withdrawal ADIZ, conditionally on Japan withdrawal their 1st, after 44 years of Japan’s withdrawal.
    5. When Korea, Japan, RC (republic of China, Taiwan area), Phillipine set up their own ADIZ, none of these countries consulted China.

    What US should do is to patent the ADIZ back in 1950s. Then all the 20+ countries have to pay US loyalty for using the ADIZ system, including China.

    • The reasons for #1 are that Japan is an island nation with a very small land area and spread out so that it’s ADIZ is consequently much bigger. China, on the other hand, is a huge country on the mainland with limited shoreline.

      Put another way, the ratio of China’s land area to coastline length is 0.00155 by one estimate – the same source gives the same ratio for Japan as 0.08162, an order of magnitude different and then some (almost 2). Plus China no doubt includes areas in it’s ADIZ based on it’s illegal and disputed claims on all the islands also claimed by multiple other countries as well.

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