US Air Force sends B-1 bombers back to Guam on temporary deployment

The U.S. Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) announced Friday that four of the B-1s, capable of carrying the largest weapons payloads in the US Navy, had arrived at Andersen Air Force Base at Guam to conduct training and "strategic deterrence missions" in the Indo-Pacific region.

The B-1s from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas are deployed under what the Air Force calls its bomber force, a plan designed to move the massive warplanes to locations around the world to demonstrate "operational unpredictability", the service said it in a statement.

The air defense did not specify how long the bombers will be on Guam.


Analysts say tactics make it harder for US forces to target than keep them on specific bases, as was the case in the now-closed Continuous Bomber Presence on Guam.

"The consistency and predictability of (Guam) deployment caused serious operational vulnerabilities. A planner in China's military could easily plan ways to destroy the bombers due to their well-known presence," said Timothy Heath, senior international defense researcher with RAND Corp. think tank in Washington.

Since it pulled B-52 bombers from Guam on April 17, the United States has made visible the B-1s in the Pacific, with missions flown over from bases on the continental United States.

The US Navy organizes challenges from Beijing to the South China Sea

It includes a 32-hour flight with two B-1s from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to the skies over the South China Sea and back last Thursday.

Earlier in April, the Air Force sent two B-1s from the South Dakota base on a 30-hour return trip to Japan, merging with Japanese F-15 and F-2 fighter jets, as well as US F-16 jets, on a training exercise, said the air defense.


In the announcement of the deployment of the B-1s to Guam, Colonel Lieutenant Frank Welton, PACAF's commander in chief of operations operations, pointed out the US's ability to carry more powerful weapons than the B-52s who left Guam a few weeks ago.

"The B-1 is capable of carrying LRASM (Long Range Anti-Surface Cruise Missile), giving it an advanced stand-off, counter-ship capability," Welton said in a statement.

The precision-guided missile is designed to hit an opponent's warship with a penetrating and fragmented warhead, while keeping the bombers at low risk of counter-attack.

US Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers flying F-35B fighter jets and South Korean F Force fighter jets F-15K during training over South Korea in 2017.

The Air Force said that the return of the B-1s to Guam marks their first presence in the Pacific since 2017, when they flew several missions with the South Korean and Japanese air forces at the height of US tensions with North Korea.


Analysts say deployments that the B-1s make to the Pacific right now can be expected to be the new norm for the region.


"We will arrange bombers through Guam on a regular basis," said Carl Schuster, a former operations manager at the US Pacific Command & # 39; s Joint Intelligence Center. "Sometimes they will participate in exercises with our allies and partners, at other times they will continue to the Indian Ocean through the South China Sea."

The unpredictability of random distributions "will also complicate the decision making potential of bad actors," Schuster said.

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