The United States has deployed six nuclear-capable bombers to Guam in a show of power in the Pacific region.
The Air Force said in a release that the B-52H Stratofortress bombers and 300 airmen were deploying to Andersen Air Force base in Guam in support of the current operations in the Pacific region.
“The B-52Hs return to the Pacific will provide U.S. PACOM and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform, while bringing years of repeated operational experience,” the Air Force said in a statement.
“This forward deployed presence demonstrates the U.S. continued commitment to allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The bombers are capable of flying at subsonic speeds at altitudes of up to 50,000 feet, and can carry nuclear missiles with “worldwide precision navigation capability.”
Marine Lt. Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., the director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters at the Pentagon last week that the deployment of the B-52s doesn’t just affect the Korean Peninsula, “it affects allies across the Pacific.”
However, he noted that when bombers are moved across the world, “We send a signal to everyone,” reported the Washington Post.
The deployment comes just days after the Air Force deployed four B-52H Stratofortress aircraft and 300 airmen from the Minot Air Force base in North Dakota to England for flying training.
“We have the versatility to work with many allied nations, giving them an opportunity to work with bombers that they normally don’t get,” said Capt. Matthew, 23rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations for logistics and aircraft commander, in a statement.
“Ultimately, it’s good for everybody – in addition to other countries, it allows us to train in the region to maintain a state of readiness and ability to deploy with no notice.”
The six B-52s will be joined in Guam by three B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, which deployed from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri last week.
The new bombers will take over from B-1 Lancer Bombers by the end of the month.
The B-1s had been involved in formations with South Korea and Japan, at one point dropping bombs on training ranges in South Korea, noted the Post.
In September, North Korean foreign minister Ri Yong Ho said that the communist country reserved to right to shoot down U.S. bombers flying near the country even if they were not in North Korean airspace.
However, experts told Reuters that North Korea’s air defense systems are decades out of date and would barely have the range to fire outside the country.
The back-and-forth between North Korea and the United States ramped up when North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un said during his New Year’s address that he had a “button” on his desk he could press to launch nuclear missiles at America.
That threat prompted U.S. President Donald Trump to lash out on Twitter, where he said:
“I too have a Nuclear Button, but it is a much bigger & more powerful one than his, and my Button works!”