United States beefs up military assets in Asia, sends B-1 bomber aircraft to Australia as deterrent to China's 'destabilising effect' in region

6:04:00 PM
WASHINGTON, -- A US defence official said American B-1 bombers were bound for Australia as a deterrent to what they described as China's "destabilising effect" in the region.

The move is part of the Obama administration's plans to "assert freedom of navigation" in the South China Sea.

China's foreign ministry expressed "serious concern" with a spokeswoman saying the country would "resolutely uphold its territorial sovereignty".

Assistant US defence secretary David Shear spoke about the plan in a Congressional hearing.

"We will be placing additional air force assets in Australia as well as B-1 bombers and surveillance aircraft," he said.

A spokesman for Australian Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said the department was "aware of the comments made by a US official in Congressional testimony overnight".

"The US Government has contacted us to advise that the official misspoke," the statement read.

The US air force said the B-1 bomber was the back bone of its long-range bomber force.

The aircraft is capable of rapidly delivering 84 bombs weighing 500 pounds each "against any adversary, anywhere in the world, at any time" and is currently being used to attack Islamic State in Iraq.

Mr Shear told a special congressional hearing on the South China Sea the deployment of air assets to Australia was in addition to the doubling of US marines bound for Darwin, leaving their current base in Japan.

"We will be moving significant numbers of Marines to Hawaii, Guam and Australia," he said.

"So we will have a very strong presence, very strong continued posture throughout the region to back our commitments to our allies, to protect and work with our partners and to continue ensuring peace and stability in the region.

"As well as back our diplomacy viz-a-viz China on the South China Sea."

The senate foreign relations committee called the hearing to address concerns about China's continued construction of artificial land masses in the South China Sea including runways.

The US State Department said China's behaviour was having a destabilising effect on the region.

Two B-1B Lancers were brought from Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, for test missions in an effort to better defend the aircraft for today’s warfighters and prove the strength of new software. The B-1 is a long range, multi-role, heavy bomber with a wingspan of 137 feet, and is capable of intercontinental flight unrefueled. 


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