In a strong and unmistakable signal to North Korea and China, the U.S. Air Force has deployed three types of strategic bombers to its base on Guam.
A senior defense officials told Fox News the B-1, B-2 and B-52 bombers are together for the first time in the Pacific. The muscling up comes after China's recent rejection of an international tribunal saying its claims to the South China Sea, where it has constructed artifical islands, are not valid.
China responded to the ruling by launching fighter jets. Satellite photos show new hangers on its contested islands in the South China Sea. In addition, North Korea recently launched a ballistic missile that traveled more than 600 miles into Japanese waters.
The U.S. Strategic Command (STRATCOM) stations nuclear-capable bombers in the Pacific to deter aggression in the region. But sending all three powerful bombers on Andersen Air Force Base in Guam represents a major escalation.
“This mission demonstrated the U.S. commitment to supporting global security and our ability to launch a credible strategic defense force," Brig. Gen. Douglas Cox, the 36th Wing commander said of recent exercises involving the bombers in an Air Force statement.
Several B-1s and more than 300 Airmen from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota arrived at Andersen earlier this month to replace the B-52s assigned to Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
Additionally, three B-2s arrived from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri on Aug. 9 to conduct local sorties and regional training. During the deployment, members of the 509th Bomb Wing will hone skills in such key areas as command and control, air refueling and long-range navigation, while directly interacting with allied military forces, officials said in a statement.