TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Two B-52 bombers of the United States Air Force flew from their base in Guam to an area east of the disputed Dongsha or Pratas Islands in the South China Sea, sending a warning message to China, reports said Wednesday.
The aircraft passed over the Bashi Channel between Taiwan and the Philippines and came as close to China’s province of Guangdong as 250 kilometers, a distance from which they could launch cruise missiles that could reach the communist country, the Chinese-language United Daily News wrote.
Tuesday’s flights were a clear response to recent Chinese military exercises, some of which occurred close to Taiwan. On April 18, the People’s Liberation Army held naval live-fire drills in the Taiwan Strait, though close to the coastline of its province of Fujian.
Since cruise missiles have a reach between 1,300 and 2,500 km, if they were launched near the Pratas, they could hit military targets anywhere inside China, according to the reports. The B-52 flights were first mentioned on Twitter by the Aircraft Spots account, the United Daily News said.
The newspaper quoted experts as saying that the flights were a clear response to recent Chinese military moves, including its sending of bombers to skies east of Taiwan, from which they could launch missiles targeting Guam.