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13 August 2017, 06:54 | Glen Norman
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Tension in the region has risen since the reclusive North staged two nuclear bomb tests in 2016 and launched two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July in defiance of world powers.
Two U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, deployed from Ellsworth Air Force Base, South Dakota, prepare to take off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, for a 10-hour mission, flying in the vicinity of Kyushu, Japan, the East China Sea, and the Korean peninsula, August 7, 2017 (HST).
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The small US territory of Guam has become a focal point after North Korea's army threatened to use ballistic missiles to create an "enveloping fire" around the island.
The U.S. planes, which were created to carry nuclear bombs and later switched to conventional payloads, followed up the drills with Japan with a separate exercise with South Korean Forces, the ASDF said. It has two 2-mile (3-kilometer) -long runways and large fuel and munitions storage facilities. Seoul is 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) to the northwest, Tokyo is 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) north and Taipei is 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) west. Its proximity to China, Japan, the Philippines and the Korean Peninsula has long made the island an essential possession of the US military. While already taking up 30 percent of the island, the American military has been seeking to increase its presence by relocating to Guam thousands of Marines who are now based in Okinawa, Japan. If carried out, it would be its most provocative missile launch to date.
Guam's total population is 160,000. "The B-1 is a long-range bomber that is well-suited for the maritime domain and can meet the unique challenges of the Pacific". It did so to compensate for US forces diverted from other bases in the Asia-Pacific region to fight in the Middle East. Residents do not pay US income taxes or vote in the general election for USA president. It's created to destroy ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight. The Navy used the island as a coaling base and communications station until Japan seized the island on December 10, 1941. Rockwell/Boeing B-1B bombers assigned to the 37th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron took off from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and flew to Japanese airspace. Many refugees fleeing Vietnam were evacuated through Guam.
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