The U.S. is ready to send up to six B-52 bombers that can carry nuclear weapons to northern Australia. Experts consider this as a move directed at China.

For more than 60 years, B-52s have been the backbone of the U.S. Air Force. They can deliver long-range nuclear and conventional strikes. U.S. records show that the facilities will be used to deploy B-52 squadrons.

Richard Tanter is a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute. He says that the latest move means Australia is willing to give more support to the U.S.’s potential war plan with China. Australia will then be the “tip of the spear.”

An investigation by Australia’s ABC News revealed that the U.S. plans to build specialized facilities for the giant aircraft at Tindal air base, south of Darwin.

The Tindal air base, after being expanded, will boast a parking area and an adjoining maintenance center for six B-52 bombers.  

Becca Wasser is a Senior Fellow for the Defense Program at the Centre for New American Security. She said that putting B-52s in northern Australia is a message to China as Beijing is threatening to invade Taiwan with stronger rhetoric. 

According to Wasser, B-52s could range and potentially attack mainland China.

Oriana Skylar Mastro is an expert on Chinese military and security policy at Stanford University. She says that an attack on Taiwan is likely between 2025 and 2027.

She noted that for 15 years, the Chinese military had not mentioned the issue of invading Taiwan, but after 2020, they suddenly started to talk about this.

Ashley Townshend is a senior fellow for Indo-Pacific security at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. He said that sending B-52s to Australia is just the beginning.

According to Townshend, the U.S. will increase its military presence in Australia. This includes personnel from all three services, navy, air force and army, and the marines in Darwin port.

In total, the U.S. will spend more than a billion dollars on upgrading its military base in Northern Australia.

In the northern port of Darwin, the U.S. has built 11 huge tanks for storing jet fuel. Townshend—a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace—said that with these jet fuel storage tanks, the U.S. could be confident of staging military exercises and operations here.

In addition, the military expansion also included a larger Pine Gap intelligence base. This would be very important in a fight between the U.S. and China, especially regarding missile defense.

Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute, said he spent months looking at Pine Gap spy base satellite photos. He estimates that in 7 years, the number of giant antennas has grown by more than a third.

If a conflict broke out between the U.S. and China, Pine Gap would detect the launch of the enemy’s missile and strike it mid-flight with high precision. Besides, Pine Gap would find the enemy’s missile launch site and destroy it. 

Paul Dibb, who held a high-level security clearance at Pine Gap for 3 decades, calls the site the most potent foreign-based intelligence collection facility outside the U.S.

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