The U.S. Air Force deployed three B-2 stealth bombers to an atoll in the Indian Ocean, according to reports on Wednesday. The deployment of bombers in Diego Garcia comes at a time of growing regional tensions in the Asia-Pacific.
The B-2 bombers have been deployed to “integrate and conduct training with ally and partner air forces,” U.S. Strategic Command said, according to reports. The exercises in the regions will be carried on until early April, officials reportedly said.
“These flights ensure we remain ready to deter strategic attack, now and into the future, and are one of the many ways the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to security and stability across the globe,” Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander, said in a statement, according to the Air Force Times.
“Recent events demonstrate the continued need to provide consistent and credible air power throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region,” Gen. Lori Robinson, Pacific Air Forces commander, reportedly said, in the statement. “Our ability to demonstrate credible combat power while training and inter-operating with our network of like-minded partner nations is vitally important.”
Meanwhile, the U.S. also is in talks to temporarily station U.S. B-1 bombers and expand B-52 bomber missions in Australia’s Northern Territory. Robinson said discussions were underway to rotate U.S. bombers through the northern Australian air force bases at Darwin and Tindal.
Last week, American aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis, accompanied by the cruiser USS Mobile Bay and destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung-Hoon, sailed along in the South China Sea under freedom of navigation patrols. Since October, the U.S. Navy has conducted two patrols in the South China Sea, including one by guided missile destroyer USS Lassen, which was sent within the 12-nautical mile limit that China claims marks its territorial waters.