Three B-2 stealth bombers were deployed to a remote Indian Ocean base, the Defense Department announced last Wednesday.
The bombers arrived at Naval Support Facility Diego Garcia, a base jointly operated by the United States and Britain on the archipelago of Diego Garcia, at the equator in the Indian Ocean.
The 29-hour trip from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., began last Tuesday, Pacific Air Forces said in a statement.Although the statement said that “the U.S. Strategic Command routinely conducts BTF [Bomber Task Force] operations across the globe,” the planes’ arrival follows the deployment to Diego Garcia, earlier this year, of six B-52H bombers.
The B-52 deployment also came at the height of tension between the United States and Iran, officials said.
China has a series of military exercises planned for next week in the South China Sea –possibly a simulated attack on Taiwanese islands in the region –and the arrival of both of China’s aircraft carriers, are expected.
The Indo-Pacific region has recently seen increased military activity, with planned exercises involving the United States and allies in coming months.
The most recent deployment of a B-2 to the Indo-Pacific Command came in January 2019, whenthree B-2s and about 200 Air Force personal arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii.A B-2 last arrived at Diego Garcia in 2016. The secluded nature of the air base offers B-2s safety, as well as quick access to the Middle East and the South China Sea, officials have said.
It is one of a handful of bases equipped to serve the plane. The B-2 is also housed at Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, although that location is within reach of Iranian ballistic missiles.