As American warships are making their way toward Korea, the United States Air Force has announced that a half dozen bombers and hundreds of airmen have been sent to the Pacific. The Tuesday announcement comes only days after three of the Air Force’s B-2 stealth bombers were also recently dispatched to the U.S. island territory, home to Andersen Air Force Base, a key American outpost in the Pacific.
According to the U.S. Pacific Air Forces statement, six B-52H Stratofortress bombers and 300 airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana were deployed to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam. The base is also currently hosting several B-1B heavy bombers.
The deployment was conducted “in support of U.S. Pacific Command’s (PACOM) Continuous Bomber Presence mission,” according the statement.
The Daily Caller (DC) further reports:
The “forward-deployed presence” of these nuclear-capable bombers “demonstrates the U.S. continued commitment to allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The U.S. sent three B-2 Spirits, nuclear-capable stealth bombers, and 200 airmen to Guam earlier in January to provide support for the U.S. Pacific Command’s Bomber Assurance and Deterrence mission.
The base in Guam is already home to B-1B Lancers, supersonic bombers carrying the largest conventional munitions payload of any Air Force bomber. These powerful aircraft flew across the Korean Peninsula regularly last year, often angering North Korea, which believes the B-1B is a nuclear-capable bomber.
While the Air Force is boosting its offensive bombing capabilities in the Asia-Pacific region, the Navy is moving warships toward the Korean Peninsula.
The B-2 bomber deployment was preceded by the deployment of the nuclear-powered Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson to the Western Pacific. South Korea expects the carrier to move into position in waters off the Korean Peninsula around the start of the Olympics in early February.
The upgraded amphibious assault ship USS Wasp recently arrived in Japan, and the USS Ronald Reagan, another Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered supercarrier, is already in the region.
Both the B-52 and B-2 are capable of carrying nuclear payloads, however according to The Japan Times, the B-1B has been modified to carry conventional ordinance only.
Still, the deployment is likely to concern leaders in North Korea, who threatened to fire missiles near Guam last year. The DC reports that North Korea perceives U.S. moves as a threat, asserting that “this mischievous behavior” is aimed at derailing talks between North Korea and the South.