Last week, the United States Air Force (USAF) deployed a squadron of B-1B Lancer bombers to Andersen Air Force Base, located in Guam. The relocation of these aircraft responds to rising tensions in the region due to the recent inauguration of Taiwanese President Lai Ching-Te, known for his pro-independence rhetoric which has alarmed China, prompting large-scale military exercises around the island in response.

It is known that the B-1B bombers deployed by the United States Air Force belong to the 28th Bomb Wing of the Global Strike Command based at Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota. After relocating to Andersen Base, they began operating as the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron. It should be noted that this group of planes is the second to arrive in Guam this month, considering that earlier this month, a group of B-52 bombers was deployed after participating in military exercises with the Philippines, also responding to their own tensions with the Asian Giant.

In this context, Pentagon Press Secretary, Air Force Major General Patrick S. Ryder, stated: “The Department remains confident in the current posture of U.S. forces and operations in the Indo-Pacific region with our allies and partners to safeguard peace, stability, and our national security (…) We have closely monitored the joint military exercises of the People’s Liberation Army in the Taiwan Strait and around Taiwan. We have expressed our concerns both publicly and directly.”

It is worth recalling that as part of the Chinese military deployment around Taiwan between May 23 and 25, a total of 49 aircraft from the People’s Liberation Army Navy and Air Force were detected in Taiwan’s Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ). They were joined by 19 ships from the People’s Liberation Army Navy and 7 from the China Coast Guard. These activities, also known as Joint Sword 2024, were conducted with the aim of “blocking the escape of ‘Taiwan independence’ separatists and breaking their comfort zone,” as reported by the BBC from a Chinese official’s words.

It should be clarified that although it is evident that the U.S. Air Force seeks to respond to these provocations, this has not been publicly announced as the objective of the B-1B Lancer deployment. The language used by the force speaks of a “routine” mission; however, statements such as those cited by the press secretary or by Lieutenant Colonel Christian Hoover, Commander of the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, who stated: “When the 37th trains alongside allies and partners, we have the opportunity to strengthen our bomber deterrence capabilities and demonstrate interoperability to collectively reinforce our ability to support a free and open Indo-Pacific,” cannot be overlooked.

Image credits: U.S. Air Force

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