22:24 GMT17 February 2020
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    Pentagon officials reportedly admitted that that a B-52 strategic nuclear bomber on a routine mission unintentionally flew within two miles of an island in the South China Sea.

    Spratly group of islands in the South China Sea, west of Palawan
    © AFP 2019 / POOL / RITCHIE B. TONGO
    WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Senior US Department of Defense officials have admitted that a B-52 strategic nuclear bomber on a routine mission unintentionally flew within two nautical miles of an artificial island in the South China Sea last week, media reports said.

    “Pentagon officials are investigating why one of two B-52s on the mission last week flew closer than planned to Cuarteron Reef in the Spratly Islands, an area where China and its neighbors have competing territorial claims,” the Wall Street Journal said in a report.

    The report cited a senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, as saying that bad weather had been involved, causing the pilot to lose his bearings and stray into air space claimed by China.

    The newspaper noted that the Chinese government brought the incident to the attention of Washington when it filed a formal diplomatic complaint with the US Embassy in Beijing.

    China’s Defense Ministry said two B-52s had trespassed into Beijing’s airspace on December 10 around the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea, and People’s Liberation Army forces kept them under close surveillance and warned them to leave.


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    nuclear bomber, Boeing B-52 Stratofortress, South China Sea, United States
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