Members of the 128th Air Refueling Wing, Milwaukee, Wisc. refuel a B-52 Stratofortress during a training exercise. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Thomas J. Sobczyk)

Formations of B-52 bombers. Dropping mines. Lots of them.

Not just hundreds … but, perhaps thousands.

Overnight, it would make the Taiwan Strait, the most treacherous waterway, in the world.

Scary version of this scenario?

A Chinese invasion fleet would face not only Taiwanese forces, but a deadly ocean of death and despair — not to mention, an unending wave of seaborn missiles and hell hath no fury after that.

It ain’t a pretty picture.

But then, the B-52 — known as the “Buff” for Big Ugly Fat F—-r — was never invited to any tea parties, was it.

And the United States is obligated by law to assist in Taiwan’s defense.

A 1960s-vintage B-52 can carry a whopping 15 Quickstrike air-dropped sea mines. Six externally and nine internally, writes David Axe of National Interest.

Quickstrike mines are not new.

“The Quickstrike family includes 500-, 1,000-, and 2,000-pound class types, known as the Mk. 62, Mk. 63 and Mk. 64, respectively,” reporter Joseph Trevithick explained at The War Zone in late 2018.

“These [are] converted from Mk. 80-series high-explosive bombs and feature a fuzing system that detonates the weapon when it detects an appropriate acoustic, seismic or pressure signatures from a passing vessel.

“A fourth type, Mk. 65, is another 2,000-pound-class Quickstrike mine, but is based on an actual, purpose-built mine casing rather than an existing bomb.”

An Air Force B-52H Stratofortress from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., arrives at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, Thursday, July 15, 2021. (Richard Ebensberger/U.S. Air Force)

Long story short — the Navy has been pursuing two related upgrade programs, known as Quickstrike-J and Quickstrike-ER, Axe writes.

The first of these simply combines the mine with a GPS-guided Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance package, while the latter adds a pop-out wing kit.

These are game-changing upgrades that allow aircraft to precisely employ the mines from any altitude and, in the case of the -ER types, loft them at targets up to 40 miles away.

This is bad news, for the People’s Liberation Army, and their amphibious capabilities.


Because this speeds up the process of laying the minefields overall and dramatically reduces the vulnerability to the aircraft, which would otherwise have to fly low-and-slow.

Which brings us back to that aging, eight-engine B-52 bomber, which just won’t go away.

It was America’s lynchpin bomber in Vietnam, and it still presents a potent force. Only a complete fool, would dismiss its lethal sting.

The Air Force operates more than 70 B-52s and, in the event of war, and could deploy dozens of the huge planes to the Asia-Pacific region or fly them from the US for missions over the Pacific war zone, Axe writes.

Of course, the bombers, if forward-deployed, themselves would be targets.

China could target America’s main Pacific outposts — in particular, the bomber base at Guam — with ballistic and cruise missiles.

But that means, they would have to strike first — a very, very bad choice. Because every US submarine would retaliate, and leave China a burning cinder.

One US nuclear sub, alone, could devastate China … let alone, 50 US attack submarines.

Meanwhile, a group of B-52 bombers arrived on Guam from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to support Pacific Air Force’s Bomber Task Force, Stars & reported.

The bombers will also take part in the Talisman Saber exercise, which runs through the end of the month, with the Australian Defense Force.

The Air Force did not disclose the number of B-52s sent to Guam.

According to reports, I Corps, based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, is leading the Army’s Pacific Forager 21 exercise from Guam.

The exercise, which runs through Aug. 6, is designed “to test and refine the Theater Army and the Corps’ ability to deploy landpower forces to the Pacific, execute command and control, and effectively conduct multi-domain operations throughout Oceania,” according to an Army news release.

Training scenarios include an 82nd Airborne operation; a bilateral airborne operation with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force and 1st Special Forces Group; a live-fire exercise with Apache attack helicopters; multi-domain operations involving land, air and sea of Strykers, Avenger surface-to-air missile systems and High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems.

“Forager 21 allows us to dynamically employ forces to the Pacific to practice our response to a full range of security concerns in support of our regional alliances and international agreements across all domains, land, air, sea, space and cyber,” Maj. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of I Corps, said in a news release.

Since its combat debut in Vietnam, the B-52 Stratofortress has unleashed more destruction than any other aircraft. Credit: USAF photo.

“Man, they were built solid,” said Gen. Charles Q. Brown, Air Force chief of staff, in an interview with Business Insider.

The B-52 bombers “sat alert for a good portion of the Cold War” and accumulated fewer flight hours, Brown added, and the Air Force closely tracks the flying they have done.

While surpassing half a century of service, the Air Force says it can carry the widest array of weapons in the US inventory, ranging from sea mines to air-launched cruise missiles.

“The bones of the B-52 are so good and so strong that as you continue to modernize and strap things in, it actually works pretty well,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Michael Middents, who led six B-52s on a five-week Bomber Task Force mission to the UK last August.

“As far as putting stuff into the aircraft, I’ve been at it for about 15 years now, and I’ve seen several different revolutionary upgrades, and I’m actually pretty impressed with the way that it gets better and better every time.”

Sources: The National Interest, Business Insider, Stars & Stripes, Yahoo! Money