‘A Signal To China’: US To Send Long-Range Bombers To Australia

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The U.S. plans to send up to six B-52 long-range bombers to a facility under construction in Australia, a display of the West’s power to deliver nuclear bombs in the Pacific amid escalating tensions with China, according to multiple reports.

Washington plans to build dedicated facilities at the Royal Australian Air Force’s Tindal air base in northern Australia to house the bombers, first reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), citing U.S. government documents, and later corroborated by Reuters. The long-range aircraft serve as a cornerstone of the U.S. nuclear deterrent and send a message to Beijing of the U.S. and Canberra’s strength posture, while China expands its military presence throughout the Indo-Pacific region.

“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 ABC. (RELATED: China’s New Security Deal Puts Key US Allies In The Crosshairs)

Plans for a “squadron operations facility,” seen by ABC, show a parking area and maintenance center for “six B52s,” ABC reported. The facility will cost $14.4 million, the outlet reported, citing Department of Defense budget documents.

“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,” Becca Wasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security, told ABC.

Matt Keogh, Australia’s minister for defense personnel, said Australia must remain “vigilant” as tensions with China escalate, adding that he did not expect the deployments to further aggravate China, The Guardian reported. Canberra forged a deal in 2021, dubbed AUKUS, to deliver U.S. nuclear-powered submarines starting in 2030.

However, the Chinese foreign ministry shot back Monday, arguing countries’ security cooperation moves “must not target any third party or undermine their interests.”

“Such a move by the US and Australia escalates regional tensions, gravely undermines regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region,” spokesperson Zhao Lijian said in a statement.

Caroline Kennedy, the U.S. ambassador to Australia, did not comment directly on the plans to house B-52s in a new facility near Tindal, The Guardian reported. However, she said “increasing tensions” in the Indo-Pacific provided further impetus for the U.S. to “work with our partners and allies to make this [region] safe.”

Australia’s defense department declined to specify when the B-52 deployments are scheduled to occur, according to The Guardian.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the U.S. and Australia cooperate on defense matters “from time to time” during a press conference, according to Reuters. “There are visits, of course, to Australia, including in Darwin, that has U.S. Marines, of course, on a rotating basis stationed there.”

U.S. Marines rotate through Australia’s Northern Territory, where Tindal air base is located, on an annual basis for training and joint drills with Australian troops.

The Department of Defense did not immediately respond to the Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment.

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