Air Force official: China buys high-end tech ‘5-6 times’ faster than US

A US defense official has warned the Pentagon that China is buying new high-end equipment at a pace “5-6 times” faster than the United States, suggesting that a heated arms race could develop between the superpowers.

According to The Drive, which tracks advancements in military-related technologies, Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt, the Air Force’s deputy assistant secretary for acquisition, recently briefed defense department officials on China’s efforts to develop perhaps the best airborne military fleet in the world.

On the other hand, from Holt’s point of view, there is an urgent need for the United States to revise the way it deploys new weapons.

The major general oversees all aspects of acquisition for the Air Force, according to The Drive, “from the purchase of new weapons systems to logistics and operational support.”

Citing the same article, Holt’s remarks on China were made during the recent summit on government contract prices. It also happened before Holt resigned from his current position in the United States Army.

Holt says the Chinese also work much more efficiently.

“In purchasing power parity, they’re spending about a dollar for our $20 to get to the same capacity,” Holt reportedly told his audience. “We’re going to lose if we don’t know how to reduce costs and increase the speed of our defense supply chains.”

Holt also expressed concerns about the US Army Logistics to quickly acquire high-tech equipment and then provide enough training and support to use the improved technology.

According to The Drive, via Holt, unlocking budget funds for equipment can be “slow and tedious,” but the biggest concern is with the resourcing system.

“If we don’t change our resourcing system, nothing else matters,” Holt reportedly said. “If you just change the run year flexibilities and modernize congressional oversight to be more patient.”

The current buy-and-acquire model looks like typical bureaucracy, Holt said. It starts with the “painfully slow“process of approving budgets at various levels, then writing formal requirements for a project – including sustaining and life cycle costs.

Simply put: Those in control of budgets, from Holt’s perspective, have the power and influence to recalibrate the speed of completing major purchases with the DOD.

“We also got a very centralized, micromanaged credit system that served the Cold War well,” Holt said.

He added: “In this environment today, it’s absolutely going to kill us. We can’t have a system where the appropriations – where it’s in the act that the name of the program is on that money, and the phase of the program is on status, so it’s illegal for a program director in the run year to look at this and say – ‘no, there’s a better way to allocate these resources.’ “

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