Two weeks ago, SOFREP reported a confrontation between Australian and Chinese airforces as China intercepted the Australian P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft during a “routine maritime surveillance activity.” Though China said, they had legal footing when they attacked the aircraft, Australia’s on its toes.

A couple of days ago, satellite imagery of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) featured an unprecedented number of B-2 fleet. According to reports, the US has initially deployed US Air Force (USAF) to operate in Australia until the end of August. The B-2 bombers will be part of the RAAF training and the Bomber Task Force (BTF).

“Training and operating with our Australian partners has been an absolute blast,” Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, commander of the 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, said in a statement. “Since our advance team hit the ground over a week ago, US Airmen have integrated with their Australian counterparts in every specialty: fuels, logistics, maintenance, aviators, you name it.”

USAF also sent the 131st Bomb Wing, the Missouri Air National Guard’s associate unit of the 509th Bomb Wing, to help with the RAAF training.

“We simply cannot operate effectively by ourselves in this environment, and learning to effectively integrate with our partners is absolutely critical to success. We’re training against that ‘tyranny of distance,’ alongside our Australian partners on this deployment, and that experience is truly invaluable.”

Australian troops also did Exercise Koolendong 22, a joined military exercise involving the US and Australian troops held at the RAAF base near Derby. There were 2,200 marines, soldiers, and airwing troops doing the cross-training.

“One of the key components … is being able to train as you would fight,” Captain Joe DiPietro of the US Marine Rotational Force said.

“Having a thinking enemy that can move and can build defensive positions or move into different ambush areas and being able to combat that is a critical component of Koolendong 22.”

US counterparts said the exercise has helped implement strategies against a fictional enemy.

Australian 13th Brigade Commander Brett Chaloner said they had challenges maneuvering vehicles, but “ultimately the marines did prevail” with the support of B-2 bombers.

“The reality was our soldiers got a great training opportunity.”

Brigadier Chaloner also said the exercise helped prepare the troops in battle, especially since he sees a more significant “defense push into the North-west over the next few years.”

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Still, Dr. Gordon Flake said many should just see the training as it is, a “normal process of readiness exercise for a long-standing marine rotational force.”

“I would be hesitant to kind of suggest that there’s a particular escalation that people ought to be paying attention to today in the Indian Ocean that merited something in the Kimberley.”

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Though Australia has been subtle in integrating B-2 bombers, Curtin University national security expert, Dr. Alexey Muraviev said the satellite images had been a warning to China.

“The deployment of some four B-2s, according to open-source reports, to Australia is something that obviously the Chinese will be anxiously following,” Dr. Muraviev said.

“You don’t send your advanced, stealthy aircraft … into an unknown area; it can only operate outside of the United States [or] in the territory … which is closely aligned with you.”

“We’re not gearing ourselves for an open confrontation with China, but we try to send them a really powerful signal that there are some red lines that exist.”

In addition, Lt. Col. Andrew Kousgaard, Commander of 393rd Expeditionary Bomb Squadron, said the training is to defend “against that tyranny of distance” and make sure Australia’s ready for any type of attack.

These concerns are definitely not unwarranted, as China’s been seen shooting ballistic missiles during their live-fire drills around the coast of Taiwan last week.

Still, Dr. Flake is open about the non-possibility of anything happening between Australia and China.

“I would be hesitant to kind of suggest that there’s a particular escalation that people ought to be paying attention to today in the Indian Ocean that merited something in the Kimberley.”

“Certainly these [exercises] are again, once more about war-fighting exercises for readiness purposes and long-term signalling,” he said.

“But as of yet, there is not a primary concern about fundamentally new or different Chinese capabilities or actions or claims in the Indian Ocean.”