US Begins Deployment of B-2 Stealth Bombers

US defense officials said Thursday that the Air Force has begun the deployment of B-2 stealth bombers, part of a massive military buildup in the Gulf region which has entered its final stage for a possible war with Iraq.

Lt. Matt Hasson, a spokesman at Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri, the United States, said the radar-evading batwing B-2s flew out of the base on Wednesday night but gave no further details.

Pentagon officials said last month that the B-2 unit had been ordered to move to overseas bases closer to Iraq: A base in Britain and a base on the Indian Ocean island of Diego Garcia. The Air Force has built special hangars at the two bases.

The B-2 bombers are among the most advanced warplanes of the US Air Force, each capable of carrying up to 20 2,000-pound (900 kg) satellite-guided bombs. The Pentagon already has deployed B-1 bombers and radar-evading F-117 stealth fighters in the Gulf region.

The B-2 unit would join a massive force of nearly 270,000 American and British troops in the Gulf region ready for a military showdown with Iraq.

Developed for long-range missions in the Cold War, the B-2 was used for combat missions in the wars in Kosovo in 1999 and in Afghanistan in 2001.

People's Daily Online ---