The US military put on a show of force in China’s backyard Wednesday, as a US B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bomber linked up with Japanese Air Self-Defence Force fighter jets in the contested East China Sea.
US bombers have been increasingly active in both the East and South China Sea over the past few days, following a pattern of behaviour set last month, when the US sent B-52 bombers through the disputed seas four times in total.
These flights come at a time of increased tension between Washington and Beijing over both economic and military matters.
The flight through the East China Sea was flown in support of Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement Thursday.
Source: Pacific Air Forces
The B-52 bomber trained alongside 12 JASDF F-15s and four F-2s over the East China Sea and the Sea of Japan before it returned to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam.
Wednesday’s flight marks the third time in a week US B-52 bombers have flown over contested seas characterised by tension largely attributed to increased Chinese military activity.
B-52 bombers flew through the South China Sea once on Sunday and again on Tuesday, showing off America’s capabilities over tense tides. Beijing warned the US against “provocative” military behaviour in response.
Source: Business Insider and Reuters
Secretary of Defence Jim Mattis says that these flights are only an issue because China made these seas global hot spots. “If it was 20 years ago and had they not militarised those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” he explained Wednesday.
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