The US Sent B-52 Bombers Tearing Through The South China Sea Twice This Week


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The U.S. Air Force sent B-52H Stratofortress heavy long-range bombers through the South China Sea twice this week, sending a message, intentional or not, to challengers in the region.

A single B-52 bomber assigned to the 96th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron conducted training in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean on Sunday, Pacific Air Forces Public Affairs told Business Insider on Wednesday. Two days later, another B-52 bomber conducted a training mission in the South China Sea.

“U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s Continuous Bomber Presence (CBP) operations have been ongoing since March 2004,” PACAF told BI, adding that these recent missions are “consistent with international law and United States’s long-standing and well-known freedom of navigation policies.”

“The United States military will continue to fly sail and operate wherever international law allows at a times and places of our choosing,” Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Dave Eastburn told Business Insider on Tuesday.

While Beijing has yet to criticize the bomber flights, Secretary of Defense James Mattis stressed Wednesday that if China has a problem with these flights, it will be because China made it a problem through its activities in contested waters.

“If it was 20 years ago and had they not militarized those features there it would have been just another bomber on its way to Diego Garcia or wherever,” the secretary explained. “There’s nothing out of the ordinary about it.”

Last month, the U.S. sent B-52s through the East and South China Sea four times, twice in each waterway. The U.S. also sent B-52s through the South China Sea in April and June, prompting the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs to accuse the U.S. of “running amok” in the region.

The latest flights come at a time of rising tension between Washington and Beijing.