Raytheon CEO Gregory Hayes told CNBC on Tuesday that the idea that Joe Biden would cut military spending if he is elected president is “ridiculous.” Hayes was responding to warnings from Republicans about possible cuts to the Pentagon under a Biden administration.
President Trump has presided over a significant increase in the Pentagon budget, bringing it from $700 billion in 2018 to $733 billion in 2020. Despite this record budget, Biden said in an interview with Stars and Stripes that he expects the budget to increase in certain areas.
The Raytheon CEO went on to warn of threats posed to the US by China and Russia that the military needs to compete with. “We have lost our technological edge to the Chinese, and in some cases to the Russians, and we’re going to have to invest more dollars into some of these new technologies if we’re going to be able to compete with these new threats,” Hayes said.
Earlier this month, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper, a former Raytheon lobbyist, called for an increase in spending to face Russia and China. “I would like to see three to five percent annual real growth for the Defense Department to stay ahead of the challenges we face, especially from China,” Esper said.
Esper could be replaced soon if Biden wins on November 3rd, but the aggressive position towards China and Russia is not going away anytime soon. The 2018 National Defense Strategy outlined the US military’s shift in the focus from terrorism to so-called “great power competition” with Moscow and Beijing. In an interview on Sunday, Biden identified Russia as the greatest national security threat to the US and said China is Washington’s greatest competitor.