Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Why We Must Stay on Top of Military Technology

It has become very easy over the last 20 years to take our huge advantage over the world in military technology for granted. And for the politicians, that can make the military budgets a sweet target for evisceration. But for the first time since the late Soviet days, there is a power dedicating the treasure to not only catching up but surpassing us:
Photos leaked online that appear to show a prototype of China's first stealth fighter jet were discussed in state media Wednesday — a move that supports claims the country's military aviation program is advancing faster than expected.

Both the English and Chinese language editions of the Global Times ran front-page articles on the photos of what appears to be a future J-20 fighter, along with extensive reports on the buzz the pictures have generated overseas.

Now even if this fighter does take a test flight soon, it is still years out from being in the Chinese arsenal. Any sense of security that may create is an illusion, though. Unless you continue to push your R&D, regardless of the field, someone else who pushes their R&D with greater diligence will likely surpass you sooner than you think. New product development is not a spigot that just turns on at full speed, either. If the Chinese catch up and then get a jump on us, it will take years before our pipeline of cutting edge military technology is producing fast enough for us to get back in the game. This may indeed be the Chinese century if we are not forward thinking in all fields.

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