Three B-2s and “several” B-1s have deployed to Guam to deter China and North Korea

Aug 10 2016 - 20 Comments

The U.S. Air Force has just deployed three B-2 Spirits stealth bombers to Guam. They have joined the B-1s already there. Not far from the troubled waters of Indo-Asia-Pacific region.

On Aug. 9, three B-2 Spirit bombers with the 509th Bomb Wing, have deployed to Andersen Air Force Base, in Guam, to conduct extended deterrence operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, where China is conducting a pseudomilitary campaign of expansion into the East and South China Seas.

For instance, the most recent satellite imagery shows China continues to show intention of militarizing the Spratly Islands.

The stealth bombers, from Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, are due to be involved in what the U.S. Pacific Command defined a “short-term deployment” during which they will conduct “local and regional training sorties, and will integrate capabilities with key regional partners, ensuring bomber crews maintain a high state of readiness and crew proficiency.”

The last time the B-2s deployed there was in March this year when three B-2 stealth bombers from the 509th Bomb Wing, flew to Guam amid growing tensions with North Korea.

Interestingly, the B-2s have joined the “several” B-1B Lancers (“Bones” in accordance with the nickname used by their aircrews) that arrived in Guam on Aug. 6, marking the first B-1 deployment there in a decade.

The aircraft, belonging to the 28th Bomb Wing from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, have replaced the B-52s in supporting the U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence mission.

“Andersen welcomes the B-1 squadron, and we look forward to working together to provide safety and security to the region, our partners and our allies,” said Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, 36th Wing commander in an Air Force release. “The B-52s did an amazing job the past few years, and we know the B-1s will continue CBP excellence going forward.”

The B-1 units bring years of repeated combat and operational experience from the Central Command theater to the Pacific. The aircraft should have just received some additional cockpit upgrades during works conducted after the Bones returned stateside in January 2016, after a 6-month deployment worth 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets in 490 sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS, during which the B-1s carried out Close Air Support and Air Interdiction missions delivering a wide variety of PGMs (Precision Guided Munitions), including JDAMs on Daesh positions.

Noteworthy, unlike the B-52 and the B-2, the B-1B had been taken out from the Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) rotation at Guam’s Andersen Air Force Base because it can’t carry any kind of nuclear weapon. So, the Lancer deployment in the regions brings a conventional heavy bomber within striking distance of China and North Korea.

Still, Pyongyang accused Washington of planning a pre-emptive nuclear strike, after the US announced it was deploying B-1 bombers in the Pacific for the first time in a decade.

B-1 in Guam

Will the B-1s also deploy to Australia, even closer to Beijing or Pyongyang than Guam?

Back in March, Lt. Col. Damien Pickart, a spokesman for the U.S. Air Force, told to Reuters that the U.S. could deploy long-range bombers to Australia as concerns over China’s military expansion in the Asia-Pacific area continue to grow.

At that time, high-level discussions were in progress to deploy B-1 bombers in northern Australia and to expand B-52 bomber missions in the region a move that was aimed to add more pressure on China. Now that the Stratofortress bombers have been replaced by the Lancers it’s unclear whether the U.S. Air Force has achieved an agreement with the local government and plans to fly any B-1s from there.

Lancers deployments on the Australian continent were considered in the past but none of these rumors ever turned into the real thing.

Anyway, U.S. Strategic Command’s assets are particularly active lately: whilst B-52s support Operation Inherent Resolve from Al Udeid in Qatar, B-52s were deployed to RAF Fairford, UK, in May and June, where the bombers participated in U.S. European Command Exercises BALTOPS and SABER STRIKE. Additionally, earlier this month, five B-52s and B-2s from all three of the U.S.’s strategic bomber bases took part in “POLAR ROAR,” flying simultaneous missions to the Arctic, the Baltic Sea and Alaska. During their last deployment to Guam, B-2s performed a running crew change at RAAF Tindal airbase in Australia on Mar. 22.

Image credit: U.S. Air Force

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  • InklingBooks

    In related news, the U.S. Forestry Service is also sending a 1954 Piper Super Cub floatpane to Guam, “to deter China and North Korea.”

    When you’ve got an administration that lacks the backbone to do anything more assertative than bad-mouth Pennsylvania deer hunters for “clinging to guns and religion,” your ability to deter anyone is virtually null.

    I applaud our military for trying. But when their commander in chief comes up so lacking, they really can’t do much. It’s going to take us at least two decades to clean up the mess of the last eight.

  • Jan Schmidt

    guam is part of the “second island chain” or “outer island chain” and can now be targeted by the guam killer DF-26 …

    http://origin.www.uscc.gov/sites/default/files/Research/Staff%20Report_China%27s%20Expanding%20Ability%20to%20Conduct%20Conventional%20Missile%20Strikes%20on%20Guam.pdf

    • sferrin

      Meh. THAAD would make short work of it and likely PAC-3 would as well.

      • Holztransistor

        It depends how many missiles are attacking a target. Every missile defense system has its limitations and can be saturated with more targets than can be destroyed at once.

        • veej7485

          same goes for sam sites….

  • David James

    B-2’s protected by a THAAD battery, I cant imagine any other combination of weapons on Guam that would give China more of a headache, that said; anything less just wont cut it in the South China Sea.

    These weapons have the capability to kick the doors off Chinas A2 defense in depth:

    Actual, real ballistic missile defense and the worlds only strategic stealth bomber capable of strike targets in mainland China with near impunity (And the range to do it solo, no tankers needed.)

    with the F-35 coming online and in theater soon, China doesn’t stand much of a chance in a war of attrition in the pacific if I were them and I wanted a fight, I would strike now before the F-35 brings many, many more stealth assets to the theater.

  • Marco

    “after a 6-month deployment worth 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets in 490 sorties in support of Operation Inherent Resolve against ISIS”.. just 6 months of a single asset…

    Amazing how ineffective airpower is against modern enemies…

    • veej7485

      what…hundreds if not thousands of enemy killed.

  • su34

    The other part of the NK border is with… Russia. Shouldn’t it be added
    to the title? Or it works just with yank (nato) vassals in EU…
    A few days ago the ukies were caught red-handed near Armyansk inside Crimea, with a heavily armed diversionary group, including with a lot of more, or less military grade explosives, detonators, mines, etc. A russian FSB agent, and a member of the military were killed. At least one of the group was caught alive, and now spills the beans.
    Porkoshenko plays the innocent (they “don’t know” the caught terrorist – Yevgeniy Aleksandrovich Panov, born 1977, an inhabitant of the Zaporozhye Region of Ukraine, and operative of ukie GUR/MoD), and has set today the military near the border on the highest alert level. Incidentally the yanks (nato), and some vassals were playing Sea Breeze with the ukies just across the border not so long ago.
    The russians are also pulling hardware to the Crimean border.
    The yanks are slowly pushing it over the top, when the blowback will hit, all the world will suffer, including the families of those idiots aching for a shooting war…

    PS: The “russian” drone from last autumn is back, with a vengeance:

    Seems the turks still have some available… as the ukies do.

    • disqus_STXkrV9NGc

      You somehow always manage to turn an article that has nothing to do with Russia into a piece of Neo-Soviet propaganda worthy of Pravda. Amazing!

      • john cutts

        I think if North Korea was nukes (or even threatened with that) it would be very much Russia’s business!

      • su34

        Thank you for your (involuntary) compliment…
        Two decades ago I could’ve sworn to never ever trust Pravda. Sadly in the new millennium the degree of truthfulness coming out of Pravda is by orders of magnitude higher than western MSM’s.
        Having lived under both systems, many have developed a high level of BS immunity, which westerners lack completely. The propaganda about bringing freedom, and wealth was in practice just about eliminating any potential competition, opening new marketplaces, and gaining cheap labor. After the end of the cold war the west freed the east from its industry, agriculture, education, healthcare, etc., and is hard at work to do it with the (remaining) natural resources. Prices are higher than in the west, salaries way lower for the same work.
        Following joke is telling:
        At a party meeting after the east’s collapse, a local leader comes on the stage:
        – Dear comrades, I have bad, and very bad news… Which first?
        – The bad one…
        – Dear comrades, the bad news is the communists lied us about everything.
        – And the very bad one?
        – About capitalism they told us the truth!

        • disqus_STXkrV9NGc

          Here are a couple of East German jokes:
          -What would happen if the desert became a communist country? Nothing for a while… and then there would be a sand shortage.

          -How can you use a banana as a compass? / Place a banana on the Berlin Wall. The bitten end would point East.

          À propos, eastern Germany is still, 30 years after communism, disproportionally backwards compared to western Germany when it comes to employment and industrialization.
          I myself, am more of a leftist. This despite having lived in a heavily socialist country for over a decade that in my opinion was extremely inefficient to the point where it imploded.

        • You should how the Eastern European countries from Warsaw pact see communism and Russia. They deplore both of them, not only for the genocide they perpetrated, but by erasing their culture and setting them back decades in human development.

          Pravda lies like there is no tomorrow.

      • I wholeheartedly agree with you. He sure as hell makes the propaganda office in Russia happy.

        • su34

          Ever bothered to take a look at a map of NK? Does Vladivostok mean something to you?
          I guess not…

  • Kenneth Ng Kwan Chung

    Don’t think that it will deter China. This is because China is not invading Vietnam or the Philippines, just claiming sovereignty over rocks and reefs. It has not used any military assets to enforce those claims. So I don’t know how bombers are going to help.
    Secondly dropping bombs on IS is different from trying to do the same on a near peer rival with radars that can pick up their F 22 and B2s, which are flying in the skies miles from their own shores.