email@example.com (Michael Moran)
The US Air Force is playing deadly game of brinkmanship that could result in a nuclear conflict, according to one defence analyst.
One of the USAF’s nuclear-capable B-52H Stratofortress bombers can carry eight city-killing AGM-86B nuclear-armed, air-launched cruise missiles (ALCMs) in its bomb bay.
In August, six of them – a significant proportion of America’s entire bomber strike force – were relocated to RAF Fairford in Gloucestershire for a series of unexplained patrols over eastern Europe.
While the specific payloads of those bombers remains undisclosed, between them there could potentially have been 48 variable-yield warheads causing minutes from Russia ’s borders.
Michael T. Klare, a professor of Peace and World Security Studies at Hampshire College, says this move, and others like it, represents “a dangerous game of nuclear chicken” from the Trump administration.
General Jeff Harrigian, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe, says that the patrols are simply a way to reassure America’ allies that they are shielded by the USAF’s unparalleled strike power: “Our ability to quickly respond and assure allies and partners rests upon the fact that we are able to deploy our B-52s at a moment’s notice,” he said.
“Their presence here helps build trust with our NATO allies,” he added, “and affords us new opportunities to train together through a variety of scenarios.”
But writing in The Alternet, Klare says the the bombers’ aggressive patrols over Europe signify a deliberate provocation that represents an increasingly hostile stance toward Russia.
Donald Trump ‘s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has challenged Vladimir Putin ‘s ambitions to regain the old Soviet states. “We stand by our long-term commitment to support Belarus’s sovereignty and territorial integrity as well as the aspiration of the Belarusian people to choose their leader and to choose their own path, free from external intervention,” he said.
And even if the Russian military remain calm in the face of such provocation, that’s not the only thing that can go wrong.
Doubling the danger, the USAF’s nuclear strike force is also aggressively patrolling close to Chinese borders
The more frequently America sends its B52s over the South China Sea or eastern Europe, the more likely it is that human error or an equipment failure will spark tragedy.
If a nuclear bomber, packed with state of the art communications technology, were to be downed over Russia or China, even the smallest miscalculation could result in a nuclear exchange.