US Indo-Pacific Command deployed 200 service people and four B-52 Stratofortress bombers to Guam on 14 June.

The B-52s will conduct bomber task force (BTF) missions as part of American efforts to maintain a state of military readiness in the region.

The vast region has become a hotbed for geopolitical tension as the US government and its allies and partners monitor the nafarious behaviour of countries acting contrary to the ‘Rules-based Order’, that maintains a free and open Indo-Pacific.

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has maintained regular dialogue with South Korea and Japan regarding the “destabilising behaviour” of North Korea and the DoD’s commitment to outpacing the military capabilities of China.

In February, the B-52 fleet deployed in Europe, where the US Air Force (USAF) conducted joint exercises with the Estonian Armed Forces. While two B-52s made a low-approach flyby to celebrate Estonia’s independence day, the presence of the bombers also asserted an implied sense of deterrence – demonstrating the unity of Nato partners on its eastern flank with Russia, a country currently waging its unprovoked and illegal war in Ukraine. Now, however, the B-52 deterrence in Guam is more transparent.

“Being here in the Indo-Pacific with the Bomber Task Force allows our forces to showcase our ability to deploy anytime, anywhere in support of the combatant commander’s objectives.

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“Training and operating in the priority theatre allows us to demonstrate our continued readiness, willingness and commitment to our allies and partners,” said US Air Force Lt. Col. Ryan Loucks, BTF commander.

The B-52 bomber

The B-52H Stratofortress is a long-range, nuclear and conventional heavy bomber which can perform a variety of missions. The bomber can fly at high, subsonic speeds at altitudes reaching 50,000 feet, with an unrefueled combat range in excess of 8,800 miles, and can carry precision-guided ordnance with worldwide precision navigation.

The fleet also serves as the USAF’s principal strategic nuclear and conventional weapons platform that supports the US Navy in anti-surface and submarine warfare missions.

The B-52H entered service in 1961; the USAF built 104 aircraft. The USAF delivered the last in October 1962.

The USAF has retired 18 B-52H aircraft leaving 76 bombers in service stationed at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.

BTF missions enable crews to maintain a high state of readiness and proficiency, and validate America’s consistent global strike capability.

While the B-52H offers a clear signal of deterrence, it still remains an aging fleet. For that reason, the American prime, Northrop Grumman, has manufactured the B-21 Raider bomber to replace this legacy fleet. GlobalData intelligence tells us that the US is projected to spend $2.4bn on the B-21 this year, which will grow to $4.1bn by 2033.