Australia’s ABC News has reported that the US is preparing to deploy up to six nuclear-capable B-52 bombers to Australia in a provocative move aimed at China.
The US will build facilities for the B-52 bombers at the Tindal air base, which is just south of the northern coastal city of Darwin. The US plan to expand the air base is expected to cost about $100 million and includes a parking area for up to six B-52s.
The US Air Force has said that the parking area will be completed by 2026. The revelation of the planned B-52 deployment comes about a year after the US, Australia, and Britain signed the AUKUS military pact.
The AUKUS pact focuses on technology sharing and aims to provide Australia with nuclear-powered submarines, which would likely be used to patrol waters near China. After the signing of AUKUS, Washington and Canberra also agreed to increase the US military presence in Australia.
In September 2021, then-Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton met with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and said the increased cooperation will include “rotational deployments of all types of US military aircraft to Australia.”
The B-52 deployment is the latest example of growing US-Australia military ties, which some fear could guarantee Canberra’s involvement in a future conflict between the US and China.
“It’s a great expansion of Australian commitment to the United States’ war plan with China,” Richard Tanter, a senior research associate at the Nautilus Institute, told ABC. “It’s a sign to the Chinese that we are willing to be the tip of the spear.”