According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), the United States plans on deploying up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers in northern Australia. ABC’s “Four Corners” series discovered the U.S. is preparing to build dedicated facilities for the long-range bombers at Royal Australian Air Force Base Tindal in the Northern Territory.
“The ability to deploy U.S. Air Force bombers to Australia sends a strong message to adversaries about our ability to project lethal air power,” the U.S. Air Force told Four Corners. Becca Wasser with the Center for New American Security added “having bombers that could range and potentially attack mainland China could be very important in sending a signal to China that any of its actions over Taiwan could also expand further.”
When asked about the B-52 bombers being positioned in Australia, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said defense and security cooperation between countries should “not target any third parties or harm the interests of third parties.”
“The relevant U.S. behaviors have increased regional tensions, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region,” Zhao told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing. “China urges the parties concerned to abandon the outdated Cold War and zero-sum mentality and narrowminded geopolitical thinking, and to do something conducive to regional peace and stability and enhancing mutual trust between the countries.”
The report about the B-52 bombers came as the U.S. and South Korea began one of their largest combined military air drills Monday. According to an Air Force statement from last week, the operation will feature about 240 warplanes conducting about 1,600 sorties over the course of the work week.
“[South Korea] and U.S. Air Forces will work together with the joint services to perform major air missions such as close air support, defensive counter air, and emergency air operations 24 hours a day during the training period,” the Air Force said. “Support forces on the ground will also train their base defense procedures and survivability in case of attack.”