U.S has sent two. B-1B bombers in South China Sea escorted by American and South Korean jet fighter.
The ‘Freedom of Navigation’ exercise included practicing attack capabilities at a training range.
In this video, Defense Updates analyzes the capabilities of B1B and explains why China should be afraid of it?
Lets get started.
China has a long history of maritime disputes with its South China Sea neighbors.
It claims almost all of the South China Sea, including islands more than 800 miles (~1300 km) from the Chinese mainland, despite objections from its neighbors.
Beijing has also created artificial islands in the area, outfitting some of them with military features. According to the US, China has reclaimed more than 3,000 acres in the Spratly Islands since 2014.
China’s sweeping claims of sovereignty over the sea have provoked competing claimants Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Taiwan, Indonesia, and the Philippines.
Non-claimants like USA, India, Australia & Japan want the South China Sea to remain as international waters with freedom of navigation, whereas China want to control this major trade way .It is a very important sea route with 5 trillion $ in trade, half of global merchant shipping and 1/2 of world’s oil shipment pass through it.
The sea also has alleged 11 billion barrels of untapped oil and 190 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.
The B-1 Lancer is a supersonic variable-sweep wing, heavy bomber used by the United States Air Force (USAF). It is commonly called the "Bone".
It is one of three strategic bombers in the USAF fleet as of 2017, the other two being the B-2 Spirit "Stealth Bomber", and the B-52 Stratofortress.
U.S has 100 of these.
The B-1A was originally designed during the 1970s as a high-altitude, Mach 2.0-capable nuclear bomber. However, President Jimmy Carter cancelled the program on June 30, 1977, in favor of air launched cruise missiles carried onboard the B-52, intercontinental ballistic missiles and what eventually became the Northrop Grumman B-2 Spirit stealth bomber.
This was done after it became apparent that penetrating Soviet airspace at high altitudes in a conventional non-stealthy aircraft was likely a suicidal endeavor.
President Ronald Reagan eventually revived the Lancer program on Oct. 2, 1981, however the new B-1B was optimized for low-level penetration.
Additionally, the aircraft was modified with new engine air intakes and other upgrades to reduce its radar cross-section. The resultant B-1B aircraft no longer possessed Mach 2 capability—topping out at roughly Mach 1.25—but had much better survivability because of stealthier profile.
WING SWEEP SYSTEM
Most airplane wing designs are tradeoffs. Wings are set for low speed stability or high-speed performance, or some middle point. But even with flap systems and leading edge slats, fixed wings are compromises.
A multi-role aircraft needs more flexibility. Having variability in the wing configuration has huge advantages in making a single aircraft adept at multiple missions.
RANGE / SERVCE CEILING /PAYLOAD
B1B has an excellent range of Range: 5,900 mi or 9,400 km.
It has a Service ceiling of 60,000 ft.
B1B has a massive payload of 125,000 lb (56,700 kg) internal and external ordnance combined.
It has 6 external hardpoints for 50,000 pounds (23,000 kg) of ordnance and 3 internal bomb bays for 75,000 pounds (34,000 kg) of ordnance.
Depending on mission the ammunition can consists of following:
84× Mk-82 Air inflatable retarder (AIR) general purpose (GP) bombs
81× Mk-82 low drag general purpose (LDGP) bombs
84× Mk-62 Quickstrike sea mines
24× Mk-84 general-purpose bombs
24× Mk-65 naval mines
30× CBU-87/89/CBU-97 Cluster Bomb Units (CBU)
30× CBU-103/104/105 Wind Corrected Munitions Dispenser (WCMD)
24× GBU-31 JDAM GPS guided bombs (Mk-84 GP or BLU-109 warhead)
15× GBU-38 JDAM GPS guided bombs (Mk-82 GP warhead)
48× GBU-38 JDAM (using rotary launcher mounted multiple ejector racks)
48× GBU-54 Laser JDAM (using rotary launcher mounted multiple ejector racks)
96× or 144× GBU-39 Small Diameter Bomb GPS guided bombs
24× AGM-154 Joint Standoff Weapon (JSOW)
24× AGM-158 Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missile (JASSM)
Earlier James Mattis, on a two-day visit to Japan, affirmed that Senkakus islands in South China Sea, which are controlled by Japan but also claimed by China, fell within the scope of the Japan-US security treaty, under which Washington is obliged to defend all areas under Japanese administrative control.
US has also signed an important agreement with India. The Logistics Exchange Memorandum of Agreement (LEMOA) between US & India allows them to use each other's land, air and naval bases for repair and resupply.
US, Japan and Indian are participating in Malabar naval exercise with eye on China.
It is clear from the developments that China is increasing getting isolated due to its aggressive posturing.