The Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has been assured United States B-1 bombers are not bound for Australia.
The American Assistant defence secretary David Shear told a Congressional hearing that the long-range bombers and surveillance aircraft would soon be based in Australia as a deterrent to what America described as China's "destabilising effect" in the region.
The Pentagon has since said the assistant secretary misspoke.
Before the clarification, China's foreign ministry expressed serious concern with a spokesperson, saying the country would "resolutely uphold its territorial sovereignty".
Mr Shear also told the congressional hearing on the South China Sea the deployment of air assets to Australia was in addition to the doubling of US marines bound for Darwin, leaving their current base in Japan.