US strategic bombers fly near Spratly Islands

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Two United States Boeing B-52 Stratofortress long-range strategic bombers flew over waters near Spratly Islands in West Philippine Sea on there way to the Indian Ocean on June 4.

CNN, in a report, cited a US defense official saying the flight mission called for the nuclear strike-capable B-52 bombers to fly about 20 miles from the islands.

The CNN report further added that according to a Pentagon spokesperson, the Guam-based bombers were on “a routine training mission” flying from Andersen Air Force Base in Guam “to the Navy Support Facility” located in Diego Garcia, British Indian Ocean Territory in the Indian Ocean.

The flight mission came after Defense Secretary of Defense James N. Mattis said that placement of Chinese weapons systems in Spratly Islands for purpose of intimidation and coercion.

“Despite China’s claims to the contrary, the placement of these weapons systems is tied directly to military use for the purposes of intimidation and coercion,” Mattis said at the 2018 Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on June 2.

“China’s militarization of the Spratlys is also in direct contradiction to President Xi’s 2015 public assurances in the White House Rose Garden that they would not do this,” he added.

“For these reasons, and as initial response to China’s continued militarization of the South China Sea, last week we disinvited the People’s Liberation Army Navy from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, as China’s behavior is inconsistent with the principals and the purposes of the RIMPAC exercise, the world’s largest Naval exercise, and exercise in which transparency and cooperation are hallmarks,” he added.

Sources: https://edition.cnn.com/2018/06/04/politics/us-b52-spratly-flyover/index.html;https://www.defense.gov/News/Transcripts/Transcript-View/Article/1538599/remarks-by-secretary-mattis-at-plenary-session-of-the-2018-shangri-la-dialogue/