NEWPORT, Rhode Island, Sept 3 Russia and China
are trying to close the technology gap with the U.S. military
and developing weapons systems that appear designed to counter
traditional U.S. advantages, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said
Hagel was speaking before a NATO summit expected to bring
Russia's souring relations with the West into sharp focus and
the goals of NATO allies to strengthen defense spending.
Hagel said the Pentagon was renewing a push to revamp how it
works with the defense industry. The goal, he said, was to
promote greater innovation needed to preserve America's
technological edge, even at a time of tighter budgets.
"While the United States currently has a decisive military
and technological edge over any potential adversary, our future
superiority is not a given," Hagel told a defense industry forum
in Rhode Island.
U.S. defense officials have watched as Moscow and Beijing
have tested a string of sophisticated weapons, from
radar-evading aircraft and anti-ship missiles that fly many
times the speed of sound, to integrated air defenses.
While the Defense Department's spending of around $500
billion is still more than the next six or seven countries
combined, research and development spending has fallen more than
20 percent since President Barack Obama took office.
In contrast, China and Russia have been rapidly increasing
their security spending and have passed new technological
milestones in recent years.
"China and Russia have been trying to close the technology
gap by pursuing and funding long-term, comprehensive military
modernization programs," Hagel said.
"They are also developing anti-ship, anti-air,
counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare and special operations
capabilities that appear designed to counter traditional U.S.
Leading U.S. weapons manufacturers, including Lockheed
Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp
, have urged the Pentagon to continue investing in
research and development of new weapons and technologies despite
less military spending.
Frank Kendall, the Pentagon's chief weapons buyer, said he
had been asked to lead an initiative that would take a
longer-term look at research and development spending.
"When you cut R&D you are delaying modernization. Period,"
Kendall told the ComDef 2014 defense conference in Washington.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart, Andrea Shalal-Esa and David
Alexander; Editing by Grant McCool)