China acquiring new weapons five times faster than U.S., warns top official

The Air Force officer responsible for all aspects of contracting for the service has issued a stark warning about China’s rapid gains in defense acquisition, with the result that its military is now getting its hands on new equipment “five to six times” faster than the United States. This is the latest sobering evidence from a U.S. defense official suggesting that the Pentagon needs to urgently overhaul the way it goes about fielding new weapons, while China increasingly appears to be jockeying for the lead in the development of all kinds of high-end military technologies as part of its broader drive to become a preeminent strategic power.

As Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Acquisition, it’s Maj. Gen. Cameron Holt’s job to oversee all aspects of contracting for the service, from buying new weapon systems to logistics and operational support. Holt’s remarks about China’s pace of change were made during the recent Government Contracting Pricing Summit and before he steps down from his current post.

As well as the sheer speed with which Beijing is able to acquire new weapons, Holt contends, the Chinese are also operating far more efficiently. “In purchasing power parity, they spend about one dollar to our 20 dollars to get to the same capability,” he told his audience. “We are going to lose if we can’t figure out how to drop the cost and increase the speed in our defense supply chains,” Holt added.