Researching and developing new weapons technologies is a key part of the Pentagon’s strategy to counter China. In an interview with Defense News, President Biden’s new Air Force secretary said he’d like to see the US military field the type of new technologies that “scare China.”
Frank Kendall, who was sworn in as Air Force secretary on July 28th, made it clear in the interview that he is focused on China. “I’ve been obsessed, if you will, with China for quite a long time now — and its military modernization, what that implies for the US and for security,” he said.
Hyping up the threat of China’s military serves the Pentagon to justify more spending, and Kendall hinted that he believes the Air Force doesn’t have a sufficient budget. “The Air Force has been overly constrained,” he said. “I think we’ve not been allowed to do things we really need to do to free up resources for things that are higher priority. We’ve had a very hard time getting the Congress to allow us to retire older aircraft.”
One project that Kendall discussed is the B-21 bomber, which is currently being developed. “I think that’s going to be something that will be intimidating, it’s going to be very capable. And there are a few others like that that are coming down the pipeline. … But I think we have to be continuously thinking about other things that will be intimidating to our future enemies.”
The Pentagon budget requested by President Biden prioritized spending on new weapons technology. The budget request asked for over $112 billion for research, development, testing, and evaluation, known as RDT&E. Besides new long-range bombers, US military leaders are calling for investment in technology like artificial intelligence, robotics, space and cyber capabilities, and hypersonic missiles.
Comments like Kendall’s concerning China are now commonplace from military leaders in Washington. Biden’s new Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro said during his Senate confirmation hearing in July that he would focus “exclusively” on China in his new position.