Washington: Observing that countries like Russia and China are modernising their militaries to close the gap they have with the US, Defence Secretary Ashton Carter on Tuesday said the Pentagon is spending heavily to develop next generation of technology to stay ahead of the curve.
"Technologies once possessed by only the most formidable militaries have now come into the hands of previously less-capable militaries, and even non-state actors. Meanwhile, nations like Russia and China are modernising their militaries to try to close the technology gap," Carter said in his address to the Navy League's Se-Air-Space Convention here.
So to stay ahead of those challenges, to stay the best, and to keep its edge, the US is investing aggressively in high-end innovation, to enhance its asymmetric, hybrid capabilities, he said.
"For instance, we're investing a combined total of USD 34 billion dollars across the cyber, electronic warfare, and space domains in FY 2017 alone. We're building fast, resilient microdrones that can be kicked out the back of a fighter jet moving at Mach 0.9 and fly through heavy winds," Carter said.
The US is developing an arsenal plane, which will function as a very large airborne magazine with different conventional payloads, networked to fifth-generation aircraft that act as forward sensor and targeting nodes.
"And for the Navy, we're working on autonomous self-driving boats, which can network together to do all sorts of missions, from fleet defence to close-in surveillance including around an island, real or artificial, without putting our sailors at risk," Carter said, adding that these are just a few of many examples.
Overall, the budget invests nearly USD 72 billion in R&D more than double what Apple, Intel, and Google spent on R&D last year combined.
That includes USD 12.5 billion specifically invested in science and technology to support groundbreaking work happening in the military, he said.