A video has emerged of the US Air Force conducting military drills involving B-2 Spirit stealth bombers, deployed recently to Hawaii, the US military base of Pearl Harbor, along with 200 airmen.
“Although bombers regularly rotate throughout the Indo-Pacific, this marked the first deployment of B-2 Spirits to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam,” the Air Force said during the deployment, which lasted from August 15 through September 27.
Basing operations on Hawaii notably allows the B-2s to practice with F-22 Raptors assigned to the 199th Fighter Squadron, a unit of the Hawaii Air National Guard, the US magazine Popular Mechanics commented on the video.
The drills apparently came just after the Chinese military declared the intermediate ballistic DF-26 missile, the so-called “Guam killer,” operational earlier this year, and the Pentagon seems to be doing more than just taking notice, the edition noted. However, the Air Force never said directly that it is the “Guam killer” that prompted the moves.
Staging operations from Hawaii is one of the obvious cues that the Pentagon is bracing for a war without Guam on the table, the magazine suggested, underpinning the statement with a quote from a commander's speech. “Our active-duty and guard members worked seamlessly together with their counterparts here in Hawaii to determine the best way for the B-2 to operate from this location in the future,” Lt. Col. Nicholas Adcock, commander of the 393rd squadron, said in a statement.
The DF-26 ballistic missiles, designed by China, are known to have a peculiar nickname, with Chinese engineers and military connoisseurs calling them “Guam killers” because they can carry conventional explosives and nuclear warheads to the US airbase on the small Pacific island, by launching from 4,000 kilometers away.
The US’ B-2 Spirit, the heavy penetration strategic bomber, is estimated to be the most expensive aircraft in history.
The price tag for one bomber with no equipment stands at around one billion dollars, whereas when it is complete with most top-notch radar and other systems, it may be over twice as costly. The bomber is known to be able to deploy both conventional and thermonuclear weapons, such as eighty 500 lb (230 kg)-class (Mk 82) JDAM Global Positioning System-guided bombs, or sixteen 2,400 lb (1,100 kg) B83 nuclear ones.