The U.S. Air Force deployed three stealth B-2 Spirit bombers to Guam this week as discussions between the North and South Koreans involving the Winter Olympics were about to commence, a move that the service says was scheduled in advance but came at a particularly sensitive time.
The bat-winged B-2s and 200 airmen deployed to Andersen Air Force Base on the U.S. island territory from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri. They are part of what the U.S. military characterized as a short-term deployment that is part of the Pentagon’s bomber assurance and deterrence mission in the Pacific. The Air Force has rotated bombers in the Pacific for 15 years in a show of support for its allies in the region.
But the deployment of B-2s during the Winter Olympics — and shortly after President Trump taunted North Korea by tweeting Jan. 2 that his “Nuclear Button” was bigger than North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s — may be seen as inflammatory in the region. The planes have stealth technology and the ability to carry nuclear weapons, something that the B-1B Lancer bombers deployed to Guam last year do not have.