At a time when Republicans and Democrats are fighting over everything, the parties seem to agree on one thing: We need to spend more on national defense.
Russia’s brutal invasion of Ukraine has changed the global strategic environment. Russia and China are forming a new power axis. Coupled with Putin’s open talk of using nuclear weapons, it makes sense to beef up and update American military infrastructure. The US is the defender of global peace and must be able to reach targets anywhere, anytime. Global airpower is not a luxury, it’s a necessity. It makes sense for the United States to lead and be self-sufficient as it develops new systems. It would be unwise to rely on foreign-produced aircraft and weapons for our defense.
With defense spending top of Washington’s mind, both parties are pushing for higher levels – they just haven’t agreed on how much to spend. The Hill reported on April 3, 2022, “Lawmakers on Capitol Hill are sparring over the merits of President Biden’s $813.3 billion defense budget, one of the largest investments in the Pentagon and security ever proposed.” Republicans have taken the stance that more money is needed to counter China and Russia. Democrats have a split in the party with the progressives wanting to cut defense spending while the centrists push for even more money than the Biden Administration is asking. The centrists will win that fight, so now the question is how much Congress will boost spending over the 4% Pentagon budget increase requested by the Biden Administration.
Both parties should agree that the US should produce its own weapons and support systems. The conflict in Ukraine shows that reliance on foreign sources for energy, and other resources, puts a nation at a strategic disadvantage. Germany and many other European nations are heavily reliant on Russian oil and natural gas, and, as a result, they are having a hard time pushing sanctions on Russia. Dependence on another nation is a strategic problem for the United States when we rely so heavily on China for so many consumer goods and on imported oil from Russia. We’re feeding their war machines and creating vulnerabilities. Congress needs to take a hard look at the idea of promoting American-made aircraft and other defense needs.
The Pentagon has seemed to learn the lesson of the merits of insourcing the production of defense infrastructure needs. Air Force Magazine reported on March 28, 2022, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall “said he thinks the Air Force will likely stay with the KC-46 as it plans its next tranche of tanker buys.” The KC-46 is an American-made refueling tanker for the U.S. Air Force fleet. They have been in competition with Airbus, a company based in the Netherlands with a headquarters in France. It seems that the next generation refueling tanker will be made in America – that is a good development.
In addition to the KC-46 refueling tanker being American-made, it is smaller than the Airbus alternative in a world where bigger targets are not better. The larger Airbus version is tougher to find air bases large enough to house them, in addition to other aircraft. Having just one version of the aircraft also will reduce the cost of training, maintenance, spare parts, and space to store the aircraft. There is also the concern that the Air Force has already poured so many resources into development and deployment of the KC-46, that shifting over to a new foreign-produced aircraft, with foreign-made parts, would raise the cost and stretch out the timelines for repairs. In the end, a shift to a new tanker would take time to get cleared for use by the Air Force, because of the time it takes to get evaluated by the FAA and cleared.
While Republicans and Democrats fight it out over the level of funding to go forward with a new defense budget, it would be great if they assured the American people that they will buy American-made aircraft. It is time to learn the lessons of the broken supply chain and all those European nations reliant on Russian energy – be as self-sufficient as possible.
Dan Perkins is a published author of 4 novels on nuclear and biological terrorism against the United States and is a current events commentator for over 35+ news blogs. Dan’s newest show is “Black and White” which can be heard at blacksandwhites.us. More information on Perkins can be found on his website: danperkins.guru.