The US is reportedly preparing to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers in northern Australia, a move Chinese military experts said on Monday will fortify Australia into a forward operating base of the US, tying Australia onto the chariot of the so-called great power competition and bringing security threats it could have avoided.
An investigation revealed that the US is planning to build dedicated facilities for the giant aircraft at Tindal air base, south of Darwin, which can host six B-52s, Four Corners under Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s ABC News reported on Monday.
The report quoted Becca Wasser from the Centre for New American Security as saying that putting B-52s in northern Australia is a warning to China.
"The ability to deploy US Air Force bombers to Australia sends a strong message to adversaries about our ability to project lethal air power," the US Air Force told Four Corners. The B-52 has the capability to deliver long-range strikes of both nuclear and conventional weapons.
In response, Zhao Lijian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said at a regular press conference on Monday that the defense and security cooperation between the US and Australia should be beneficial to regional peace and stability rather than targeting a third party or harming a third party’s interests.
The US move has escalated regional tensions, seriously sabotaged regional peace and stability, and could trigger a regional arms race, Zhao said.
Previously, the US mainly deployed its bombers in Guam to conduct strategic deterrence missions, but now the US believes that Guam is no longer secure and that it could be facing potential missile threats, so Australia has become another option, Zhang Xuefeng, a Chinese military expert, told the Global Times on Monday.
China has developed the DF-26 intermediate range ballistic missile that can reach Guam, earning it the nickname of “Guam Express.”
In July, the US sent two B-2 bombers to Australia, and it has become obvious that the US is attempting to build Australia into a new bomber fortress, Zhang said.
In this case, US bombers could take off from Australia and Guam in tandem and enter East Asia from different directions, increasing the flexibility of bomber deployment, Zhang said. Australia is also farther away from Asia, and bases there are safer, he said.
The US is tying up Australia onto the chariot of the so-called great power competition, Zhang said, adding that this has no benefit for Australia’s national security.
“The B-52s cannot protect Australia, but will only draw fire upon it. After all, it is not difficult to develop an ‘Australia Express,’” he said.