US plans to deploy B-52s to northern Australia amid tensions in China – source
SYDNEY, Oct 31 (Reuters) – The United States plans to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers at an air base in northern Australia amid heightened tensions with China, a source familiar with the matter said on Monday.
Special facilities for the bombers are being set up at the remote Royal Australian Air Force base at Tindal, some 300 km (190 miles) south of Darwin, the capital of Australia’s Northern Territory, said the source, who declined to be identified. because they are not authorized to speak publicly on the subject.
The development was first reported by the Australian Broadcasting Corp’s program Four Corners, citing US documents.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said Australia “from time to time” engages with the United States on defense alliances.
“There are of course visits to Australia, including Darwin, where US Marines are of course alternately stationed,” Albanese said during a media conference.
Australia’s Northern Territory is already the scene of frequent military collaborations with the United States. Thousands of US Marines rotate through the territory annually for training and joint exercises begun 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 countries should not target third parties.
“The US side’s relevant practices have increased tensions in the region, seriously undermined regional peace and stability, and could trigger an arms race in the region,” Zhao said.
“China urges the parties concerned to abandon the old Cold War zero-sum mentality and narrow geopolitical concepts and to do more to contribute to regional peace and stability and strengthen mutual trust.”
The United States has detailed plans for a so-called “staggering facility” for dry season use in the Northern Territory, an adjacent maintenance center and a parking lot for the B-52, the ABC report said.
The ability to deploy the long-range bombers to Australia sends a strong message to opponents about Washington’s ability to project air power, the US Air Force was quoted as saying in the report.
Last year, the United States, Britain and Australia have one security business that will arm Australia with the technology to deploy nuclear-powered submarines and anger China.
The deployment of B-52s, which have a combat range of about 9,000 miles, in Australia will serve as a warning to Beijing as fears of an attack on Taiwan mount, said Becca Wasser, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American in Washington, DC Safety, ABC said.
That year, the US stationed four B-52s at its 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; Edited by Lincoln Feast, Gerry Doyle and Nick Macfie
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