US plans to deploy B-52s to northern Australia amid China tensions

US plans to deploy B-52s to northern Australia amid China tensions

By Renju Jose and Lewis Jackson

SYDNEY (Reuters) – The United States plans to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to an air base in northern Australia, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday, amid heightened tensions with to China.

Dedicated facilities for the bombers will be set up at the remote Royal Australian Air Force Air Force Base Tindal, about 300 km (190 miles) south of Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, he said. the source, who declined to be identified because they don’t know. authorized to speak publicly on the issue.

The development was first reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s Four Corners program, citing US documents.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia would engage with the US in defense alliances “from time to time”.

“There are visits, of course, to Australia, including in Darwin, which has the US Marines, of course, on a rotating base stationed there,” Albanese said during a media conference.

The Northern Territory of Australia is already host to frequent military collaborations with the United States. Thousands of US Marines rotate through the territory annually for training and joint exercises, started under President Barack Obama.

The office of Australian Defense Minister Richard Marles declined to comment.

When asked for comment at a regular briefing on Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said defense and security cooperation between the countries should not target third parties.

“The relevant practices of the US side have increased tensions in the region, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and may trigger an arms race in the region,” Zhao said.

“China urges concerned parties to abandon the old Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical concepts, and do more to contribute to regional peace and stability and strengthen mutual trust.”

The U.S. has drawn up detailed plans for what it calls a “squadron operations facility” for use during the Northern Territory’s dry season, an adjacent maintenance center and a parking area for B-52s, the report said. ABC said.

The ability to deploy long-range bombers to Australia sends a strong message to adversaries about Washington’s ability to project air power, the US Air Force was quoted in the report.

Last year, the United States, Great Britain and Australia created a security agreement that provides Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear submarines, riling China.

Sending B-52s, which have a combat range of about 14,000 km, to Australia will be a warning to Beijing, as fears grow about an assault on Taiwan, Becca Wasser, senior fellow at the Washington, DC-based Center for a New American. Security, he told the ABC.

This year, the United States deployed four B-52s to Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, a US island territory in the Western Pacific.

(Reporting by Renju Jose and Lewis Jackson; Additional reporting by Martin Quin Pollard in Beijing; Editing by Lincoln Feast, Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie)

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