In this Sept. 23, 2018 photo, a US Air Force Air Force B-52H Stratofortress bomber takes off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea.
US Air Force/Senior Airman Christopher Quail
US flies B-52 bombers over South China Sea
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) - March 6, 2019 - 3:43pm

MANILA, Philippines — The US Air Force recently flew long-range bombers over the disputed South China Sea, where Beijing has installed military outposts on its artificial islands.

The US Pacific Air Forces announced that two B-52H Stratofortress bombers took off from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam last March 4 to conduct routine training missions, Australia-based ABC News reported.

"One bomber conducted training in the vicinity of the South China Sea before returning to Guam, while the other conducted training in the vicinity of Japan in coordination with the US Navy and alongside our Japanese air force counterparts before returning to Guam," the US Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.

The two B-52 aircraft are part of Washington's "continuous bomber presence" mission, which is based in Guam.

According to the official website of Boeing, the nuclear-capable B-52 is one of the most combat capable bombers of the US.

"Due to its high mission-capable rate, large payload, long range, persistence and ability to employ both nuclear and conventional precision standoff weapons, the B-52 continues to be a critical contributor to the US National Security Strategy," Boeing said.

The last operation of US B-52 bombers in the South China Sea was in November last year.

The US Department of Defense confirmed that the heavy bombers conducted transit operations in the South China Sea and East China Sea. The aircrafts were escorted by Japanese aircrafts.

Just last month, the American and British navies conducted maritime security drills in the South China Sea. The US Navy deployed replenishment oiler USNS Guadalupe while the Royal Navy deployed frigate HMS Montrose.

US Indo-Pacific Command commander Adm. Philip Davidson earlier declared that allies and partners will be included in future operations in the South China Sea.

"We’ve had allies and partners in the region — the UK, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, France, all in one form or another step up their operations in the South China Sea and I think that shows the international community’s willingness to push back," Davidson earlier told the US Senate.

Brunei, China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam have competing claims to the region. Beijing has been ignoring the 2016 ruling of a United Nations-backed tribunal taht invalidated its nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

SOUTH CHINA SEA UNITED STATES US AIR FORCE
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