SYDNEY – The United States is planning to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an air base in northern Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) reported on Monday, a move which could further inflame tensions with Beijing.
Dedicated facilities for the bombers will be set up at Australian air force’s remote Tindal base, about 300 km (190 miles) south of Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern territory, ABC‘s Four Corners program reported, citing US documents.
Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles’ office did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.
The United States has drawn up detailed plans for what it calls a “squadron operations facility” for use during the Northern Territory dry season, an adjoining maintenance center and a parking area for the B-52s, the ABC report said.
The ability to deploy the long-range bombers to Australia sends a strong message to adversaries about Washington’s ability to project lethal air power, the US Air Force was quoted as saying in the report.
Australia’s Northern Territory already hosts frequent military collaborations with the United States. Thousands of US marines rotate through the territory annually for training and joint exercises, first started under President Obama.
Earlier this year, the US deployed four B-52s to its Andersen Air Force base in Guam.
Last year, the United States, Britain and Australia created a security deal that will provide Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines, riling China.
Putting B-52s in Australia, that could reach and potentially attack mainland China, will be a warning to Beijing, as fears grow on an assault on Taiwan, Becca Wasser, senior fellow at the Washington, DC-based Centre for a New American Security, told the ABC. – Reuters