America is losing its technological edge thanks to repeated rounds of defense cuts, said senior House leaders this week. The joint statement—issued by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Rep. Buck McKeon [R-Calif.], HASC seapower and projection forces panel chairman Rep. Randy Forbes [R-Va.], and HASC strategic forces panel chair Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.)—follows a revelation by the Washington Free Beacon that China has completed the first flight test of a new hypersonic glide vehicle, which could be used to deliver warheads past missile defenses at hypersonic speeds. The test of the weapon, dubbed the WU-14, took place on Jan. 9, and officials state the space vehicle is constructed to be deployed on top of a Chinese intercontinental ballistic missile, then to glide and maneuver at hypersonic speeds (over Mach 5 or greater than 6,000 miles per hour) to its target. The Pentagon has confirmed the test occurred, but did not offer comment on the specifics, according to the Free Beacon. “The Chinese and other competitor nations [are pushing toward] military parity with the United States; in some cases, as in this one, they appear to be leaping ahead of us,” states the Jan. 13 joint statement. They added, “The Asia Pacific is fast becoming a powder keg. Allowing nations that do not share our respect for free and open avenues of commerce to gain a strategic advantage over the United States and her allies only brings us closer to lighting the fuse.”
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.