The U.S. will base B-1 bombers and surveillance planes in Australia amid South China Sea tensions

Bombers and ISR (Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance) aircraft head towards the Pacific.

It looks like the U.S. Air Force is planning to deploy some strategic bombers and surveillance aircraft in Australia to put some pressure on China amid South China Sea tensions.

The South China Sea is the subject of several territorial claims. China claims sovereignty on some island chains and  waters that are within the 200 nautical miles exclusive economic zone of Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam

This year, China has started building an airstrip on the disputed Spratly Islands in the South China Sea  waters claimed by the Philippines.

According to FP, the Defense Department’s Assistant Secretary for Asian and Pacific Security Affairs David Shear, during testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on May 13, said that along with moving U.S. Marines and Army units around the region, the Pentagon will deploy air assets in Australia, “including B-1 bombers and surveillance aircraft.”

The U.S. Air Force ISR aircraft, possibly unmanned Global Hawk drones, will monitor activities around the disputed islands, whereas the “Bone” heavy bombers will serve as a deterrent to challenge Beijing aggressive ownership claims.

U.S. strategic bombers have already been temporarily deployed to Australia, to take part in exercises with the Royal Australian Air Force, in 2012 and at the end of 2014 as a consequence of a joint Force Posture Initiative signed in 2011 to train together to face threats in the Pacific.

Actually, U.S. aircraft don’t really need to deploy to Australia to put pressure on China: Air Force Global Strike Command’s bombers, including B-52s and B-2s, routinely operate from Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam, strategically located 1,800 miles (about 2,900 km) to the east of China. And they can even launch round-trip strike missions from their bases located in the Continental U.S.

According to Xinhuanet, China cautioned the U.S. against taking any actions in the region, urging Washington “not to take any risks or make any provocations so as to maintain regional peace and stability.”

Image credit: Boeing


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. Australia should grow up and think about its future with eurasia… china will move step by step, carefully, to develop the land without interference from others, russia will do that too. no military might can withstand nuclear-tipped mach 20 missiles. even if you have BMDs and ABMs to kill ICBMs in boost phase and reentry, numbers will overwhelm any defence. the US-built B-1 ist a 70ies plane, same the russian TU-160. they are deathtraps, even at mach 1.5 to mach 2 they are easy targets. why is the USA not pulling back from its NWO agenda which does not work anyhow? the american century is over, ask the brits how they lost their empire and why.

  2. None of this really matters right now as both B52’s and B1B’s will only be deployed into hostile airspace after a ground war has already begun . Neither aircraft due to their RCS can be used as ” first strike ” weapon systems anymore although the B1B does stand a much better chance in hostile airspace because of its supersonic speed and TFR system . This is all “muscle Flexing ” and the like, anyone who has been paying any attention knows that we are already at war with China / Russia / , its a currency war and one day probably soon it will turn into more than a ” Proxy War ” in Syria . In any case we have bigger more sophisticated plans for China and Russia when it gets to that point. These aircraft are lets say the meat and potatoes but it’s the caviar in our arsenal that will knock them out . Remember were talking about 40 and 50 plus year old technology , I can remember when Pres Jimmy Carter cancelled the B1B program only to thankfully have it restored by Pres Reagan and it really pains me to think back when B52’s were being knocked out of the sky by Russian ” SAMS ” in Viet Nam partially because of stupid bureaucratic interference and micro management but that’s another story . The good thing about these aircraft is even though they have been constantly updated their potential lethality in a ” Lo Tech ” environment due to an EMP cannot be so easily dismissed.

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