President Biden and Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks met virtually with the CEO of Lockheed Martin and representatives from other companies to discuss advancing a piece of legislation that would subsidize the domestic manufacturing of semiconductors.
The legislation, known as the CHIPS Act, was advanced in the Senate last week. The bill would authorize about $50 billion in subsidies to boost chip manufacturing. According to Military Times, the legislation would add $79 billion to the deficit over ten years.
The subsidies for chip-making were originally part of a massive $250 billion bill meant to compete with China, but the final legislation stalled due to partisan differences. The Senate is expected to vote on the finalized version of the CHIPS Act this week.
The Pentagon and US arms makers want the CHIPS Act to pass as semiconductors are needed to produce advanced weapons. The US also views chip-making as a vital part of competing with China. “Semiconductors, it’s not an overstatement to say, are the ground zero of our tech competition with China,” Hicks said at the meeting.
Hicks said chips are vital for technologies, from artificial intelligence to hypersonic weapons. “Just making sure that … when we [deploy troops] their weapons will operate as intended, and that the United States will retain control of that technology is incredibly important,” she said.
Lockheed CEO Jim Taiclet said semiconductors are essential for the company’s plans to integrate advanced technologies into current weapons systems and work on F-35 fighter jets.
Biden visited a Lockheed Martin facility in May that produces Javelin anti-tank missiles. The US has shipped thousands of Javelins to Ukraine, and Biden said he learned on his trip that each one requires over 200 semiconductors to be made.