A U.S. Air Force B-52 Stratofortress bomber lands at Andersen Air Force Base Jan. 16, 2018.
U.S. Air Force photo/Tech. Sgt. Richard P. Ebensberger
Six B-52H Stratofortress bombers and 300 airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base Louisiana have deployed to Andersen Air Force Base to reinforce the “continuous bomber presence” mission in the Pacific amid the on-and-off tension caused by North Korea’s erratic behavior.
In a press release on Tuesday, the US Pacific Air Command announced that the nuclear-capable Stratofortresses will replace the conventional B-1B Lancers at AAFB and will take over the mission from the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron deployed from Ellsworth AFB, South Dakota by the end of the month.
The B-52s returned to Guam more than a week after the arrival of three B-2 Spirits stealth bombers and 200 airmen from Whiteman Air Force Base Missouri in support of the bomber assurance and deterrence mission. They arrived at AAFB on Jan. 8 for a “short-term deployment” to conduct local and regional training sorties.
Stars and Stripes reported that this is only the second time in history these three types of bombers have been sent to Guam simultaneously. The last time this occurred was in August 2016. In a joint drill that year, the three strategic bombers-- B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer and B-2 Spirit-- were flown together over AAFB in an unprecedented display of power in the region.
“The B-52 is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet (15,166.6 meters) and can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability,” according to military.com.
A U.S. Air Force B-2 Spirit taxis Jan. 8, 2018, at Andersen Air Force Base.
Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Gerald Willis
The B-52s last deployed to the region in July 2016. “During their deployment, the 37th EBS conducted a variety of joint and bilateral training missions with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, Japan Air Self-Defense Force, South Korean air force and Royal Australian Air Force,” Pacific Air Command said.
The Air Force said the B-52H’s return to the Pacific will provide US Pacific Air Command and its regional allies and partners "with a credible, strategic power projection platform, while bringing years of repeated operational experience.”
"The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory. This includes gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions. Updated with modern technology the B-52 will be capable of delivering the full complement of joint developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of our nation's defenses," according to a military website.