Check Six, America

The US military’s technology advantage is slipping fast in many areas, and forecast research and development budgets hold little hope of restoring it, Pentagon acquisition, technology, and logistics chief Frank Kendall said last week. Speaking at a Center for New American Security event in Washington, DC, on Jan. 16, Kendall said DOD has “big problems” with R&D due to sequester cuts. R&D spending will be down in Fiscal 2014 and the Fiscal 2015 budget “is much worse than ’14,” he noted. Modernization and R&D are getting hit “disproportionately” because force structure and personnel can’t be cut fast enough to meet mandated spending targets, he said. Having a technology lead is “not assured” unless the Pentagon pays to keep its edge, Kendall warned, and the longer budgets are held down, the more competitors will catch up. The US is only “several years ahead” of China and Russia’s fifth-generation fighter projects, but he sees parity in ballistic and cruise missiles, where competitors are “doing quite well compared to us.” Kendall said electronic warfare, “I think, is a close race right now,” and while the US has a clear lead in submarines, “our space systems are vulnerable.” There are “some areas where I’m much more concerned than with others,” he said. “I don’t think we should be complacent.”