The USAF and the Pentagon want China to know it has not abandoned the China Sea — in fact, B-1 bombers and a carrier force are headed in harm's way. Credit: USAF.

Reading some media reports, one would have surmised the US military ran away from its warfighting Pacific duties like frightened little girls, with carriers in port over Covid fears and B-52 BUFFs abandoning Guam.

Like Chicken Little warning the sky is falling, the truth is rather more punctuated, to the tune of the USS Ronald Reagan carrier force underway to the region, and in particular, B-1 Lancer bombers laden with gifts — each one carrying a belly full of stealth cruise missiles capable of decapitating an enemy force in minutes.

The “Bone,” as they call the B1, is back on the island of Guam and it has brought with it the ability to deliver up to two dozen stealthy AGM-158 Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missiles (JASSMs), Tyler Rogoway of The War Zone reported.

It’s now abundantly clear that the Pentagon wants to make sure that friend and foe alike are aware of that fact, based on the pictures the service just posted. In other words, Uncle Sam is in your face China, like it or not.

The photos show one of the B-1Bs currently calling Guam home having one of its three cavernous weapons bays stuffed with live JASSMs, the War Zone reported.

The images showcase the fact that the B-1B can put even a peer state’s most defended targets at risk from a standoff distance.

The JASSM has a declared range of around 230 miles, while its enhanced successor, the JASSM-ER, can reach out and touch targets nearly 600 miles from its point of launch, the War Zone reported.

Since the departure of the B-52s bombers from Guam on April 17, the Air Force has made its B-1s quite visible in the region and that has included missions that were flown from bases in the continental US. 

That included a 32-hour flight from Ellsworth Air Force Base in South Dakota to the South China Sea and back, while earlier in April two B-1s were sent from South Dakota on a 30-hour round trip flight to Japan, where the bombers were joined by US F-16s along with Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) F-15 and F-2 fighters in a joint training exercise, The National Interest reported.

What underpins this new strategy is a Pentagon buzzword called “dynamic force employment.”

Basically, it entails going from being fairly predictable with the movements of strategic assets to being far less predictable in those deployments, albeit at the cost of persistence in a particular area of operations, The War Zone reported. 

Meanwhile, the US Navy’s 7th Fleet announced that the Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8) and the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14) conducted presence operations in international waters and airspace near Panamanian flagged drill ship, West Capella, The National Interest reported.

The Panamanian vessel was conducting surveying operations in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone for the Malaysian state oil company Petronas. It has been drawing attention from Chinese fishing vessels and Chinese Coast Guard ships for the past two months.

USAF B-1Bs WHIP01 & 02 departed Andersen AFB, Guam to conduct operations over the South China Sea via separate routes. Credit: USAF.