The US will soon regularly base six of its nuclear-capable B-52 bombers at RAAF Base Tindal.
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A report by Four Corners has revealed Washington will build dedicated facilities in the Northern Territory, including a “squadron operations facility” and parking areas for the aircraft.
It comes amid growing tensions with China and after the US sent six of its B-2 Spirit bombers to train at RAAF Base Amberley this year.
The upgrades to Tindal that will allow it to house the B-52s are expected to cost $22.5 million and be financed by the US government.
The US Air Force appeared to confirm the plans telling the ABC, “The RAAF’s ability to host USAF bombers, as well as train alongside them, demonstrates how integrated our two air forces are.”
The B-52H Stratofortress is a long-range, heavy bomber that can perform a variety of missions, including nuclear and conventional bombing alongside maritime surveillance.
The US currently has a fleet of 76, and the aircraft type has been in operation for more than 60 years. During the first Gulf War, it dropped 40 per cent of the coalition force’s weapons.
It has an unrefuelled combat range in excess of 14,000 kilometres.
“The B-52 is capable of dropping or launching the widest array of weapons in the US inventory,” states the US Air Force’s website.
“This includes gravity bombs, cluster bombs, precision-guided missiles and joint direct attack munitions.
“Updated with modern technology, the B-52 is capable of delivering the full complement of joint-developed weapons and will continue into the 21st century as an important element of our nation’s defences.
“The Air Force currently expects to operate B-52s through 2050.”
It comes after the US sent six of its batwing, B-2 Spirit stealth bombers to Amberley this year to train with RAAF F-35s.
The UFO-like Spirit can also carry nuclear weapons and is thought to be the most expensive aircraft ever made, valued at around $2 billion each.
Their visit amounted to the biggest-ever deployment of the US’ most important military jet to Australia, with the country’s active fleet only numbering 20.
It came as US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi visited Taiwan. China retaliated by testing ballistic missiles over Taipei for the first time.