Pacific Air Forces officials are studying ways to protect the long-range bombers that operate from Andersen AFB, Guam, said PACAF Commander Gen. Gary North. This may include erecting hardened aircraft shelters there, he told reporters in Orlando, Fla., at AFA’s Air Warfare Symposium. “Long-range bomber[s] on an airfield,” such as the B-52s that deploy to Andersen on rotations, are “a fairly lucrative target that an enemy force would be interested in attacking,” said North. While massive hardened shelters large enough to house these bombers would be “very expensive,” he emphasized that “the airplanes they [would] protect are national assets” that USAF has an obligation to safeguard. “The first job of any military is to defend its base whatever that base is, fixed or mobile, whether it’s [from] ballistic missiles . . . or attempts to close a base by non-kinetic means,” said North. Outside analysts have said Andersen may soon fall within the range of Chinese missiles.
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.