North Korea Faces Three Types of U.S. Bombers in Guam for Only Second Time in History

As of this week, the U.S. military has three different types of bombers––the nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s and the conventional (non-nuclear) B-1Bs––at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam. In the image above, a B-52 bomber flies over Osan on March 19, 2013, as part of joint military drills held by the U.S. and South Korea. Won Dai-Yeon/AFP/Getty Images

As of this week, the United States military has three different types of bombers––the nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s and the conventional (non-nuclear) B-1Bs––at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.

This is only the second time in history these three types of bombers have been simultaneously deployed together on the U.S. territory, Stars and Stripes reported. The last time this occurred was in August 2016.

B-52 Stratofortress bombers began arriving at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, temporarily providing the Pentagon with a rarity as tensions with North Korea percolate: three kinds of bombers in the Pacific.

— Stars and Stripes (@starsandstripes) January 17, 2018

Six B-52H Stratofortress bombers and approximately 300 Airmen from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Tuesday. That was roughly a week after the deployment of three B-2 nuclear-capable stealth bombers to the air base. The B-52s are meant to replace six B-1B Lancer bombers, which are scheduled to return home from Guam to Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, at the end of January. In the meantime, the three distinct U.S. bombers will have the rare opportunity to fly together at the same time––at least for a short period.

In a statement on the arrival of the B-52s, the U.S. Air Force said: "The B-52H's return to the Pacific will provide [U.S. Pacific Command] and its regional allies and partners with a credible, strategic power projection platform, while bringing years of repeated operational experience.The B-52 is capable of flying at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet and can carry nuclear or precision guided conventional ordnance with worldwide precision navigation capability.This forward-deployed presence demonstrates the continued commitment of the allies and partners in the Indo-Pacific region."

North Korea has threatened to bomb Guam on more than one occasion and the simultaneous deployment of three bombers on the U.S. territory could conceivably antagonize the rogue state.

In November, North Korea's state-run news agency said a mission involving B-1B bombers near the Korean Peninsula was meant to "threaten and blackmail" the regime. The deployment of the six nuclear-capable B-52 Stratofortress bombers on Tuesday occurred hours after North Korean state media derided President Donald Trump for his controversial "nuclear button" tweet directed at Kim Jong Un, describing the comment as the "spasm of a lunatic."

The U.S. military deployed three B-2 nuclear-capable stealth bombers to Guam on January 8. In the image above, a B-2 bomber flies over before the 2018 College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Rose Bowl Game presented by Northwestern Mutual between the Georgia Bulldogs and the Oklahoma Sooners at the Rose Bowl on January 1, 2018 in Pasadena, California. Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

When asked whether the military was concerned about antagonizing Pyongyang after the deployment of the B-2 bombers last week, Captain Christen D. Ornella, a spokesperson for the U.S. Air Force, told Newsweek, "This mission is not intended to be threatening or provocative toward any other country. The bomber assurance and deterrence missions have been employed within [Pacific Command] for many years (specifically, they began in 2014). These missions serve as a routine and visible demonstration of the U.S. commitment to our allies and partners."

Further questioned about whether the simultaneous deployment of B-52s, B-2s and B-1Bs could potentially provoke Pyongyang and derail recent efforts from North and South Korea to rekindle relations, the military did not return a request for comment Wednesday.