Two US B-52 bombers flew near contested islands in the South China Sea and “participated in a routine training mission”, according to a statement from Pacific Air Forces.
The two B-52H Stratofortress bombers, which are based in Guam, “participated in a routine training mission in the vicinity of the South China Sea” the statement said on Wednesday, adding that the flight was part of US Indo-Pacific Command’s “Continuous Bomber Presence operations” which have been ongoing since March 2004, reports CNN.
The Pentagon would not confirm which islands the B-52s flew by, but recent tensions have focused on the Spratly Islands.
The US regularly flies aircraft in the South China Sea, but Beijing is particularly sensitive about the operations when they come near areas where the Chinese government has built islands and established military facilities on disputed maritime features.
Pacific Air Forces said Tuesday’s “mission is consistent with international law and US’ long-standing commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific”.
Recently, a Chinese destroyer sailed within 45 yards of the USS Decatur, forcing the American warship to maneuver to avoid a collision while it was sailing near the disputed Spratly Islands.
The US labelled the Chinese warship’s actions unsafe and unprofessional while Beijing said the US was threatening the safety and sovereignty of China.