B-52s Ignore China No-Fly Zone

B-52 successfully tests alternative jet engine fuelTwo B-52 bombers flew unarmed and unescorted through a no-fly zone declared by China over disputed islands in the East China Sea Monday in a direct challenge by the U.S. to Beijing’s attempts to intimidate its neighbors, defense officials said Tuesday.

The overflight came less than 48 hours after Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that the U.S. would not recognize China’s “Air Defense Identification Zone” over the uninhabited Senkaku Islands, claimed by Japan, China and Taiwan.

A Pentagon spokesman, who spoke on condition of anonymity, confirmed that U.S. aircraft flying out of Guam had carried out the overflight on a previously scheduled training mission and returned to Andersen Air Base on Guam “without incident.”

The spokesman would not identify the type of aircraft but other officials said they were B-52H Stratofortresses. In August, B-52s from the 20th Bomber Squadron at Barksdale Air Force Base, La., deployed to Guam as part of the U.S. effort to re-balance forces to the Pacific.

An Air Force press release in August quoted Lt. Col. Scott Maytan, commander of the 20th Bomber Squadron, as stating that “What we do day to day with this presence mission is show our ability to fly our airplanes around the Pacific theater and support whatever contingencies we might be asked to do.”

Maytan added that “The continuous bomber presence maintains long-range strike capability in theater, so our national decision makers have assets that they can use should they ever need to.”

On Friday, China declared the imposition of the Identification Zone over the Senkakus, called Diaoyu by the Chinese, and warned that all aircraft approaching the area must first file a flight plan, radio frequencies and transponder information or risk “emergency military measures.”

The Pentagon spokesman said that the U.S. aircraft did not notify the Chinese on the Senkakus overflight, nor were the U.S. aircraft contacted by the Chinese.

Over weekend, Hagel said in a statement that the Senkakus announcement by China “will not in any way change how the United States conducts military operations in the region. “

Hagel said “We view this development as a destabilizing attempt to alter the status quo in the region. This unilateral action increases the risk of misunderstanding and miscalculations.”

In California, where President Obama was traveling Tuesday, White House officials called for a peaceful settlement of the disputes over the Senkakus and other islands in the region.

“We believe that inflammatory rhetoric and inflammatory policy pronouncements like those made by the Chinese over the weekend are counterproductive, and we believe that those differences of opinion can and should be resolved diplomatically,” said Prinicipal Deputy White House spokesman Josh Earnest.

About the Author

Richard Sisk
Richard Sisk is a reporter for Military.com. He can be reached at richard.sisk@military.com.
  • Maybe they were escorted by F-22s that is why the chinese air force didnt even bother to have radio contact with them

    • Mr.T

      LOL , go change you diapers

    • tiger

      There was no need. The damn planes track on radar for miles.

    • Andrew

      probably Chinese radio components! Ouch!

    • Uranium238

      I agree too. Nobody really knows unless they were actually there at the moment. I see all the F-22 haters are on here hitting the dislike button on every Raptor comment like a lab test with a mouse, cheese and a button.

  • Paul

    Every time an American buys something at Walmart they are funding Chinese expansion. Something to think about…..

  • andy

    I wonder if the Chinese shot down the B52, do we ask “Please return our plane”?

  • hibeam

    B-52s enforce Yes-Fly Zone

  • Rest Pal

    China might want to consider sending a pair of 1960-era J-6’s and down the B-52s next time they fly in the zone. In fact, it would be a great opportunity to test its drones and missiles on the B-52s.

  • Hey commies wanna engage ? 0ur raptors are just around to make u pee on ur diapers

    • dr. agreeable


    • oblatt2

      No raptors have so much down time its hard to keep even two on alert. And then they don’t have the range to do anything.

      • Benjamin

        Senkaku’s are well within flight range of Okinawa

      • freeamerica

        So, at no time are two F-22’s available? Hogwash! Just saying it doesn’t make it true. Just makes you look ignorant.

    • nics

      @Manny Pacquiao, last time I checked, F-22 pilots said they were afraid to fly the F-22s. Some pilots even went further and refused to fly the F-22s. You sound as idiotic and ignorant as “freeamerica”, STemplar, and Bradford, if not more so. People in the sciences are not interested in Jingoism and their practitioners. You will find better audience on Fox’s website.

  • Big-Dean

    you bet your a.. that there was a couple of AWACS monitoring Chinese “activity” and that we had a few F-22s nearby, outside of the zone, ready to “assist” the B-52’s if any Chinese fighters were scrambled.

    And again your can bet your a.. that we had a couple of “platforms” near the Chinese coast gathering signal intelligence

    and it wouldn’t have surprised me at all if those two B-52’s were flying the furtherest edge of the “zone” while under an Aegis umbrella

    all of these “factors” combined is what the Chinese did nothing

    • Steve B.

      Not likely. The reason for 2 planes is so there’s a “witness” if there’s an incident.

      The US is not wanting to escalate this at all by staging AWACS and/or F22’s into the vicinity of the flight and there’s really no reason to.

      Simply flying a couple of Buff’s on a “previously” scheduled flight (my butt) it was scheduled) sends the required message, especially as it’s in the news immediatly

      • Dfens

        The F-22’s couldn’t penetrate the great “time zone barrier”. It is known to be fatal to all avionics on that airplane.

    • Lance

      I don’t think we had F-22s in the Area we do have F-15s but that would have been recorded.

    • Uranium238

      I agree. There had to have been F-22s in the area as this would be a somewhat risky flight. The ADIZ has clearly been indicated by the Chinese.

      Does anyone remember the incident with the P-3 a while back? I don’t think we want the same thing to happen to our B-52s. The Raptor is probably the only aircraft capable of providing top cover while being unidentified. There is more to this story I’m sure.

    • oblatt2

      >you bet your a.. that there was a couple of AWACS monitoring Chinese “activity” and that we had a few F-22s nearby, outside of the zone, ready to “assist” the B-52’s if any Chinese fighters were scrambled.

      Fantasy deployments – keeping America proud since 1945 LOL

  • CaptainObvious


  • mpower6428

    politics aside…. isn’t it cool that these planes are still working…? no just mechanically but, well…. you know.

    • tiger

      Not if your the crew used as bait. They can not out fly trouble or shoot back at it.

  • orly?

    Sooo… under who’s orders?

    Do it again, but with B2s like whoever ordered them for Korea.

  • IKnowIT

    Cool. Glad someone had at least the smallest bit of balls.

  • Gooit

    It is not a No-Fly Zone, but rather an Air Defense Identification Zone. Anyone’s military can fly through them; just like how Tu-95 goes into/through Canada’s and American’s ADIZ.

    • Auyong Ah Meng

      It is okay for them to declare a air defense identification zone….other countries have done it…

      But a air defense identification zone over disputed territories? Really? Seriouly…think about it…

      It is like Nazi Germany word of play of extending a air identification zone over parts of disputed territory with Poland and France…..Or Mexico declaring over the same over texas cos it use to belong to Mexico and thus can be disputed…etc….is it truely acceptable… .

      Please be careful…they always start with this thing call creeping up to you with words of play or not so serious stuff..until they are right on top of you and it is too late…no amount of regrets or sorrows will recover lost lives when things go south very fast…

      That’s plain wrong what they are doing….zzzz

    • Nadnerbus

      Like Auyong said. It is a power play by the Chinese to assert more control of a contested region they hope and plan to dominate, at least economically. They figured they could try to ratchet things up with this No Fly, or Identification zone, or whatever you want to call it, and if nobody called them on it, they would have a precedent. Kind of like moving you stuff into someone’s place a little bit at a time, ’til one day: surprise! I live here now!

      As weak as the Administration has looked on foreign policy lately, I can see how the Chinese thought they might not be challenged on it. It is gratifying to see they were, and promptly so. I have to give a “good job” to the military and the administration on this one. It seems like they took just the right steps to say “nope” without being provocative.

      • Gooit

        China and Japan have disputed islands in that area. Both of China and Japan’s ADIZ covers those disputed islands.

  • Mike Smith

    I’m not quite sure why the US has to involve itself in such an obvious manner in Asian disputes. They have enough problems and exponential expenses at home and abroad else where to deal with. I’m not suggesting they clean out ignore what’s happening but equally the increasingly active roll the US is taking in the pacific is just as alarming to me and surely exasperates the territorial disputes China has with its neighbours.

  • Navy Seal 9009

    I would say the islands are closest to Taiwan, the largest island is 2 miles long and 3/4 of a mile wide the 2 smaller islands are 3/4 mile long by 1/4 mile wide. No one lives on them, so whats the big deal CHINA. At the closest point those islands are 225 miles from the closest little island off the coast of China and about 75 miles off the coast of Taiwan. If they belong to anyone the should belong to Taiwan. There problem fixed!!!!!!!!!!!! Fly til your little hearts content B-52s and escorts. China’s fighters with their fuel guzzling copy cat engines would run out of fuel by the time they made it out there anyway unless they carried all fuel tanks just to get a shot with their guns. LOL

    • If the islands ‘belonged’ to Taiwan, mainland China would still consider them part of the empire. They still insist that Taiwan is a breakout province of China, rather than an independent country. Read up on your history about this….

    • Bruce

      The deal in this case is not the islands but the resources under them – whoever owns the islands owns the resources.

    • mike

      Chinese morons bullying its neighbors ,you’re right their copycat planes are nothing compared to predator drone….go U.S never mind china

    • Really, that’s probably what would happen if China used the U.S’s planes, thats why we use our J-class planes, so we could beat the crap out of your F/A-18 and F-16’s.

  • oblatt2

    Its not a no fly zone its an air defense warning zone which could happily co-exist with the Japanese one.

    The Chinese play the long game – they know that in the end the US will back down. Maybe it will take a few unfortunate accidents with Chinese drones running into non-complying US aircraft to get the point across.

    One only needs to look what happened to our electronic monitoring int he 250 mile limit – plane intercepted, crew locked up, lesson learned, we don’t do it any more.

  • Dfens

    I hear the Chinese were really intrigued by the B-52s. It’s like seeing a piece of history flying. Hell, it’s like flying B-17s over Iraq. No one is really scared so much as intrigued by such old aircraft. When you think about it, it really is amazing that we could keep these birds flying 50+ years after they were originally designed. No one in the 1950s would have guessed they’d be flying this long. Had they known, they would certainly be ashamed by what their once great country had become.

  • Pilgrimman

    Chinese Internet Misinformation Force up in this…

  • JEMcKellar

    Is there any particular reason why the B-52 was selected for the job? Long enough legs to be staged from US soil rather than an allies? Better countermeasures? Big enough to survive a mid-air collision with a fighter?

    It seems they could have routed a C-130 with typhoon relief supplies through the area instead, just to give the Chinese a good chance to embarrass themselves.

  • Lance

    I doubt China would do anything they want American business to push there economy a act of war would have ended that. Those Islands are far from Chinas shore I doubt they ha enough time to get fighter to that area before the B-52s left for home anyway. Just more saber rattling.

  • Menzie

    I agree with this policy of not giving in to the bullying tactics of Beijing. But why lie when you say “previously scheduled” maneuvers. We all know it was not previously scheduled, so does China. It is transparent and silly which makes us seem like children.

  • Jim C

    This is potentially another fine bucket of suds Obama could get us into. He reminds me of myself at 13; I tried to hang with girls 16. Little did I know they were laughing their a—- of.

    • If you have a suggestion for a better response, please let us know.

  • Jim C

    last word is “off” (Sorry)

  • oblatt2

    Editorials across Asia point out the hypocrisy of the US position – ignoring Japanese and Taiwanese identification zones while protesting on a Chinese one.

    Its pretty clear the Chinese have got what they wanted – a demonstration that any relationship with the US will always be unequal and ultimately exploitative.

    • STemplar

      Post links to the editorials wind bag. Your assertion about tje US not conducting SIGINT flights anymore was a complete fabrication liar.

    • moronotopia

      I’m pleased that “editorials across Asia” don’t have a whit of impact on US decision making. Editorialize away, but keep one eye on the sky…

    • westwood

      Most of the world know about the hypocrisy of the US government already. They just don’t say it out loud most of the time.

  • CaptainObvious

    We flew into their ADIZ, maybe had a few sensors turned on. Gathered some SIGINT and that’s it. Russia and the US do this all the time – some of you, and the media are trying to paint a more disturbing picture.

    Shit, the US does this to China all the time.

  • Bill

    Anothr case in point of sticking our nose in where it don’t belong. Will we ever wise
    up. Common sense will tell you that it costs China nothing to say they are going to
    impose a no fly zone. While on the other hand it costs the U.S. thousands and thousands of dollare to fly missions. I think we should turn the entire DOD over to the boy scouts – at least they have adult leadership.

  • oblatt2

    The US is telling carriers today that they must obey the new Chinese rules.

    The Chinese play the long game – they know that after all the bluster has subsided like the old adage says – the US doesn’t mean what it says.

    • Mama PLA

      We were really tough for a day. Today it is, who cares about those stupid islands anyway? Today all anyone cares about is how much they bought from China on Black Friday. The chest beating is officially over, now it is back to business as usual.

    • ike

      In the end, the US is nowhere close to being able to match China’s firepower along Chinese coast. That’s just common sense. Heck, the top brass can’t even be sure the Navy and AF can survive a shootout with Iran because of its 1000+ Russian & Chinese anti-ship missiles and SAMs. On this count alone, the US has no business getting involved in the Sino-Japanese dispute. We don’t need to go further and consider the bilateral financial, economic and geopolitical repercussions, which would lead to the same conclusion with a cursory examination. The US is in deep shXt already and most people are oblivious to it.

      • STemplar

        What are the three of you? About 12 years old emotionally and mentally? Probably chronologically, remember KAL flight 007? Telling civilian airlines to follow the ADIZ to avoid mistakes is the adult thing to do. The Japanese are being idiots telling theirs not to file flight plans. Keeping civilians out of harms way and protecting them is what adult rational governments are supposed to do.

        The idiots in Beijing actually think they are going to individually bully, Taiwan, Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia, and those countries aren’t going to get together and have something to say about. They are a bunch of dullards in a dictatorship whose leaders have never had their ideas and approaches critically challenged. The US is no benchmark and this administration in particular plays it far too politically with national security, but the Chinese are a bunch of linear thimble heads with this latest move.

        If they did something to get the Japanese and the South Koreans on the same sheet of music militarily there isn’t anything the Chinese could have done that would be much dumber.

        • STemplar

          Sorry, for got to mention Vietnam, Cambodia and Thailand.

      • oblatt2

        Actually by any objective measure the US isn’t even a player in Asia anymore. I don’t see any indication that any of the leadership are factoring the US into their countries future. Asian reactions to the B52s has been variations of “its not helpful but what can you expect”.

        Sailing around with a discredited military is no match for the hundreds of billions of dollars China is pouring into the region. And China has long used industrial policy to effectively contain resistance to its rise.

        When your transport network is tied up in 50 year contracts with Chinese firms, China is your biggest market, your greatest source of capital and critical for your manufacturing chain and the guarantor of prosperity for your future – You can see why Americas pitch to “balance that” has been rejected.
        And every one of the countries that were staunch US allies are now taking advantage of the new Chinese era. The last thing they want is for the US to come and slow it down.

        I remember when the US was a hyperpower and could “make its own reality”. Those days are long gone the US isn’t even in the game in Asia anymore.

        • Dfens

          Now, instead of a hyper-power we are a hyper-joke. We spend more on weapons and get less than the rest of the planet combined. Our national security is nothing more than a profit line in the accounting ledgers of a few multi-national corporations that laugh at the stupidity of the American people for falling for the same stupid ploys year after year after year.

      • freeamerica

        Google is your friend. The internet has tons of info on it. Have your grandson show you how to get online and look up military power by country. Pick any site you like. You wanna know how I know you are not worth debating….”In the end, the US is nowhere close to being able to match China’s firepower along Chinese coast” OMG, this is the hilarious. China is not even close to the US in ANYTHING military. They are still 30 years behind in technology. They are just now sending a rover to the moon. The US did that in the 60’s.

  • oblatt2

    Remember when we had total air dominance ? – now the air-force talks about trying to create small temporary bubbles of survivability.

    Lockheed Martin: We never forget who we’re working for – China.

  • Julia

    The Japanese gave up those island colonies after World War II, at Potsdam. Details can be found at the G2mil blog. But the Pentagon needs a new threat to prevent budget cuts.

  • joefeds

    I believe the Air Force is using B-52s because they are more likely to withstand a mid-air collision that the Chinese would provoke.

  • Stephen

    people go on about the B-52 being old etc.. but you can bet there is a couple out there packed full of Sigint, a big wolf (with big ears) in sheeps clothing.
    I admire the Americans for doing this, the Chinese need to be shown you can’t just bully your neigbours..
    I say if we need each other for trade, Obama should turn of the trade tap for one week,, show them what a bully acn really do…..

  • gt350

    A B 52 is the Hammer , if it makes it over your airspace and its working its a bad day for U. age doesn’t matter, there just a prong in the picture.