Pentagon Sees Cold War Bombers as Crucial to Threatening China

Bombers in South China Sea are more practical threat than aircraft carriers

Ever-rising US-China tensions have fueled concerns of military engagements, especially in the South China Sea. This has the Pentagon sending in Cold War-era bombers to menace Chinese ships and targets on the various islands.

The bombers, B-1B and B-52s, are flying mostly out of Guam, and are seen as a replacement for US aircraft carriers, which would be too imperiled by Chinese missiles to use in these areas. Pentagon officials emphasize that the planes can bomb as many targets as a whole carrier group.

Historically, the US focus has been on carriers, and sending carriers into the South China Sea as a “message.” China has given its own message in recent days, firing “carrier-killer” missiles into the same areas, underscoring that they could hit these large, expensive ships if fighting breaks out.

Using bombers from Guam takes the missiles somewhat out of the equation, but also changes the focus, encouraging China to establish more air defense in the islands to prevent US bombers from hitting as they please.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.