US Air Force sends B-1 bombers back to Guam on temporary deployment

Hong Kong (CNN)Just a few weeks after the US Air Force ended its 16-year Continuous Bomber Presence in Guam, its B-1 bombers are back on the Pacific island. The temporary deployment program is designed to keep Washington's adversaries guessing about what US firepower will be where and when.

The US Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) announced Friday that four of the B-1s, able to carry the largest weapon payloads in the US fleet, had arrived at Andersen Air Force Base on Guam to conduct training and "strategic deterrence missions" in the Indo-Pacific region.
The B-1s, from Dyess Air Force Base in Texas, are being deployed under what the Air Force calls its bomber task force, a plan designed to move the massive warplanes to spots around the world to demonstrate "operational unpredictability," the service said in a statement.
    The Air Force did not specify how long the bombers will be on Guam.
    A B-1 bomber takes off from  Dyess Air Force Base, Texas, on April 30, 2020 for deployment to Andersen Air Force Base, Guam.
    Analysts say that tactic makes the US forces harder to target than keeping them on specific bases, as had been the case in the now-ended Continuous Bomber Presence did on Guam.
    "The consistency and predictability of the (Guam) deployment raised serious operational vulnerabilities. A planner in China's military could have easily plotted ways of destroying the bombers due to their well-known presence," said Timothy Heath, senior international defense researcher with the RAND Corp. think tank in Washington.
    Since it pulled B-52 bombers from Guam on April 17, the US has been making its B-1s visible in the Pacific, with missions being flown over from bases in continental US.
    That includes a 32-hour flight by two B-1s from