North Korea definitely took notice of the Jan. 10 flight of a B-52 to South Korea, and remains aware of the Air Force’s continuous bomber presence in the Pacific, the Pentagon’s No. 2 uniformed officer said Thursday. Air Force Gen. Paul Selva, the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined to get into classified intelligence following the flight, but said North Korea “didn’t shrug” at the B-52’s flight. “North Korea is very aware of the presence of aircraft,” at Andersen AFB, Guam, Selva said at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. While the Air Force’s B-52 fleet is old, it will fly well into its 80th year and stay modern based on continuous upgrades to keep it a “robust platform” and a mainstay of the Air Force’s part of the nuclear triad,” Selva said. While the nuclear arsenal is not likely to be used, the military still needs to invest in the stability of the weapons, the integrity of the command and control system, and the health of the delivery platforms to keep the nuclear deterrent effective, he said. (See also: The Future of Long-Range Strike from the October 2015 issue of Air For?ce Magazine.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.