Over the past three years China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has rapidly expanded its overwater bomber operating areas, gaining experience in critical maritime regions and likely training for strikes against US and allied targets, the US Department of Defense (DoD) said in its 2018 China Military Power Report to the US Congress.
Released on 16 August, the 130 page-long report states that the PLA “may continue to extend its operations beyond the First Island Chain", demonstrating the capability to strike US and allied forces and military bases in the western Pacific Ocean, including Guam.
Such flights could potentially be used as a strategic signal to regional states, said the DoD, indicating, however, that the PLA has thus far not been clear in terms of what messages such flights communicate beyond a demonstration of improved capabilities.
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