The Air Force last Friday (July 17) deployed two B-1B bombers to Guam as the Navy continued its dual-aircraft carrier operations in the contested South China Sea.
Both services described the operations as routine, but they follow a U.S. State Department announcement Monday explicitly embracing a 2016 decision by an international tribunal that rejected China’s claim of sovereignty over certain reefs and isles in the South China Sea.
The pair of Lancer bombers — from the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, 28th Wing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D. — will conduct bilateral bomber task force operations out of Andersen Air Force Base, the Air Force said in a statement. They will train with allies, partner nations and other U.S. services. The deployment also supports “strategic deterrence missions to reinforce the rules-based international order in the region,” the Air Force said.
About 170 airmen also deployed from Ellsworth to Guam in support of the bomber mission, according to the statement.