US Indo-Pacific Command has confirmed that two airforce bombers have conducted a 32- hour round-trip sortie over the South China Sea.

The operation included two US Air Force B-1B Lancers from the 28th Bomb Wing, Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota.

The sortie was undertaken as part of a joint US Indo-Pacific Command and US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) Bomber Task Force (BTF) mission, to reaffirm US Air Force presence in this contested region and reassure its allies.

In a statement, US Indo-Pacific Command said: “This operation demonstrates the US Air Force’s dynamic force employment model in line with the National Defense Strategy’s objectives of strategic predictability with persistent bomber presence, assuring allies and partners.”

The latest sortie follows a similar operation conducted a week ago when a B-1 participated with six US Air Force F-16s and 15 Japan Air Self-Defense Force F-15s for CONUS-based bomber bilateral training near Japan.

Since 2014, USSTRATCOM has conducted several BTF missions, previously called Bomber Assurance and Deterrence missions, to demonstrate US commitment to collective security.

The first mission included B-52H Stratofortresses and B-2 Spirits aircraft travelling from the continental US to Joint Base Pearl-Harbor Hickam in April 2014.

Meanwhile, the US Air Force has stepped up efforts to support Covid-19 response efforts in the country.

Recently, the military unit signed three contracts with a combined value of $133m to accelerate N95 mask production.

The contract companies, 3M, Honeywell and O&M Halyard, are expected to collectively produce 39 million masks in the next 90 days.