U.S. Flies B-52s into China’s Air Defense Zone

Did not inform Chinese prior to exercise

US Military B-52 Bomber
B-52 bomber / AP

U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the United States flew two B-52 bombers over a disputed island chain in the East China Sea, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The exercise was a direct challenge to China’s expanded air defense zone.

The planes flew out of Guam and entered the new Chinese Air Defense Identification Zone at about 7 p.m. Washington time Monday, according to a U.S. official.

Over the weekend, Beijing said it was expanding its Air Defense Identification Zone to include the island chain, which is claimed by both Beijing and Tokyo but administered by Japan. The islands, the source of growing friction in the region, are known as the Diaoyu Islands in China and Senkaku Islands in Japan.

U.S. defense officials earlier had promised that the U.S. would challenge the zone and wouldn't comply with Chinese requirements to file a flight plan, radio frequency, or transponder information.

The flight of the B-52s, based at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, were part of a long-planned exercise called Coral Lightening. The bombers weren't armed and weren't accompanied by escort planes.