China Caught the U.S. in Manufacturing, High-Tech Weapons Might Be Next

It’s no secret that China (and many other nations) are catching up with the U.S. in education and manufacturing. A quick Google search can reveal the massive gains China’s manufacturing and education sectors have made over the last three decades. Experts have long warned that the slipping far behind it’s industrialized peers in terms of critical education sectors;  science, technology, engineering and math.

The worst part they say; as the U.S. is slipping, China is rising. First, it mastered — some would argue, it still is mastering — basic manufacturing and it has begun investing heavily in higher-end engineering and scientific education, paving the way for it’s rapid gains in high-tech manufacturing. Now, China is starting to turn this investment in engineering and scientific knowledge toward producing high-end military gear.

Just look here, here and here to see how fast the Chinese military is growing. This great technological leap forward owes much of its success to China’s large investment in an education system that produces far more engineers each year than the American university system — something you’ll hear any American defense executive lament. These engineers — with plenty of help from information acquired from America and Europe via espionage, reverse engineering Western gear and partnerships with Western companies — have helped design China’s new crop of fighter jets, anti-satellite missiles, space planes and more.

Chinese engineers have also designed the sophisticated cyber weapons that have stolen reams of information from American defense contractors and the Pentagon to fill in gaps in Chinese weapons designers knowledge. Meanwhile, American companies like GE are partnering more and more with Chinese firms such as COMAC to produce everything from jet engines to cutting edge avionics, as we’ve said above, these partnerships provide China with information on how to catch up with the the U.S.

So while China’s manufacturing and engineering knowledge base might not yet be at the same level as America’s, it’s getting better every day as its engineers take on more challenging projects and learn from their partners at world-class companies like GE.

To learn a bit more about this issue and what can be done to keep the U.S. on top of its game in the face of rising competition from China, DT asked Naval War College Professor, Kathleen Walsh for her take on all this. Here’s her bio, needless to say, she’s got the ear of plenty of decision makers and influencers when it comes to China policy. Click through the jump to read her answers to our questions.

When will China catch the U.S. in terms of high-end engineers capable of designing and building quality, high-tech goods and military equipment?

In terms of sheer numbers, it won’t take long.  Of course, quality is what matters here, and that will
take longer, probably a decade and perhaps much more.  I’m told by industry experts that Chinese engineers coming out of Chinese schools are quite proficient in basic engineering skills, but that they
typically tend to lack the independent initiative and innovative approaches that at least Western multinationals are seeking and tend to be important in advanced science and engineering.  So, I think it will
be some time (10+ yrs) before they’re able to produce similarly advanced, independent engineering as US, with some exceptions possible. But though they might not “catch us,” that is not to say that they won’t
be marginally innovative or adaptive in important ways in the meantime — something we need to be cognizant of.  Of course, our own labor force in this sector is ageing, retiring, and largely comprised of foreign
students.  So I’m not sure this is the right question — us v. them. Perhaps it is what we can continue to do to attract high-quality engineers wherever they come from and however advanced China might
become.  That is the nature of the current competition — growing and attracting the world’s best STEM talent.  We’ve been very good at this since the World War II era; many studies suggest policy reforms are needed to ensure we remain so, on which, in general, I concur.

How soon will China make the leap from partnering/licensing/stealing western designs and tech to innovating its own game-changing technology?

 They are already in the process of doing so, at least in some select areas (info tech sector, especially).  The way I see it, China will continue to engage in all of these activities along the full spectrum of
activities (from stealing/copying through independent innovation) for some time. The earlier stages, of course, help develop the latter, more advanced indigenous innovation capabilities China seeks. Multinational corporations know this, too, and seek to find ways to maintain their edge and advantage. It’s a two-way game.

What are some of the potential roadblocks to China’s rise in these areas?

Education, I think, is a big road block as it is something that is hard to “grow” fast (you can build a university but that is not the same as establishing a high-quality educational institution and faculty). China has some elite schools and faculty, but these are largely (not entirely) found in the eastern cities (Beijing, Shanghai,
Guangzhou and some others). China’s military, defense industry, and researchers are still located in many cases in the Central-Western provinces. So, we’ve seen the military trying to employ (according to State plans) these elite universities for training, recruiting, and partnering as well as in assistance in building more universities in
other parts of the country, as well as greater focus on attracting foreign experts, faculty, and foreign university programs. But this is, by its nature, a long-term solution to a current gap.

How can the U.S. remain competitive?

As indicated in my testimony and comments made in that hearing Q&A, I think there has been a tipping
point that affects how the US must answer this question today. That tipping point is tied to the nature and evolution of globalization — which has seen the outsourcing and offshoring of manufacturing, followed
by the same for R&D, and now, I think, of science itself — much of it to China. If science (basic and applied sciences) becomes a truly global endeavor in which China is a major player (as is becoming the case as China invests billions in it and attracts some of the world’s leading scientists, engineers, and innovators to its shores as well, at least for temporary stints in China), then this suggests to me that the US must find better ways to leverage this global trend -and China’s increasingly important role in it— rather than shy away from it or
simply seek to control or contain it (which I think will yield diminishing returns at best and harm our own S&T efforts if we’re not privy what’s going on in China S&T by being involved strategically at least in part). The United States, European Union, and increasingly China (some might include Russia too) are among the few that, in a world of more global science, I think, are likely to continue to invest in a full spectrum of basic science, including frontier science; in a more globalized system where science and its results are more readily
accessible (as it becomes more globally cooperative, outsourced, commoditized, and offshored), smaller countries will likely not feel the need to invest in such themselves — if they can access/buy from others,
except in those areas in which they might have a scientific competitive advantage.  Every country wants to be more innovative and scientifically advanced in order to grow and advance their economy today. I think only
some big countries like the US and China will have the ability to do so, which suggests to me opportunity and a need to be more engaged rather than operating in wholly separate spheres as in the Cold War era. This
approach has its inherent dangers, but the tipping point to me is that the risks of NOT doing so as China becomes more scientifically advanced have begun to outweigh the risks inherent in doing so — and will grow.
As such, I advised that we should be flooding the place (China) with students, scientists, and others to learn more about and be more involved in China’s science and technology efforts as a way to leverage this (their) investment (as they do ours and others’) and, most importantly, serve US national security interests

I must, as you know, add a disclaimer that these are my own personal views and in no way represent
US government, DoD, US Navy, nor Naval War College, which should be made clear in anything made public.

Now, the rise of China and other nations isn’t necessarily a bad thing for the world. Still, if the U.S. wants to remain competitive to a rising China, it must invest more in its education system — part of that also means reforming the immigration system  and ensuring we have a level economic playing field to attract and keep the world’s best minds in our country. We’ve got the size, natural resources, a decent sized population, and for now, brainpower to compete with China, but unless we take a look at the numbers in terms of education, we may not always be competitive in the private sector or the defense arena.

If you want more arguments of how China — and others — are rapidly moving forward while the U.S. risks being surpassed, read this depressing article called Why America Is Slouching Towards Third World Status by Harvard University’s Steven Strauss.







  • Andy

    Move all our Manufactories out of China that the answer….

    • Denver9

      That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. Get your fat ass out of the house and get a real job.

      • tiger

        I just spent 13 hours moving office furniture in North NJ. Tust me that was a real job. in 90 degree weather.

        • Dude

          try doing that same job in 100 Degree weather here in Texas!

        • XYZ

          According to this article, I think that’s not a real job. Go be a scientist or engineer.

      • Andy

        what job???? everything are made in FRICKING CHINA.
        Everything that I own are made in China

    • Ken

      This is just another Cold War era type of article that scared d public about a potential enemy so that d government can do more of what they like. Even if china education has improved dramatically, it doesn’t mean d US education system is slipping. From statistical facts, I know that China sent d highest rate of international students to d US, a lot more than any other country. If china education system is on d rise n US education system slipping, y r they coming to d US for schools like crazy, even d country’s top leaders children r going to school in the US. In term of manufacturing, it’s not that we are incompetent n couldn’t compete, it’s simply that we r too expensive n couldn’t lower our salary to compete. I’m sure that American workers are capable of doing anything that Foxconn workers in china can, n can even do it better. However, we r too expensive to hire for things that skills n professionalism r not required. So stop posting article like china on d rise n us slipping just because we don’t manufacture d iPhone but design n invent d iOS instead.

      • majr0d

        Dude, good points but this isn’t twitter. Spell out some more and your message will be more effective. Didn’t neg you but others have.

  • Chops

    Not that hard to catch up when you steal all the information-they would be 30 yrs behind at least if they had to devolop it on their own.The defense contractors and DOD need to tighten up their security if they want to maintain their edge over China.

    • bobbymike

      Completely correct everything China is doing has zero innovation and is either stolen or copied. They still cannot even make a decent jet engine. They still have to buy or steal to make any progress.

      The real problem is that the US through deficits, debt and massive entitlement spending is not spending enough on basic research and development. In addition we have practically shuttered our nuclear infrastructure as well as our solid rocket, guidance and RV industries.

      We are losing faster than they are gaining.

      • Denver9

        What fucking innovation have we had? Name some, don’t just spout off standard polysci crap.

        • majr0d

          Chops, bobby - Excellent points!

          Denver - Stealth tech, engines, radar, precision munitions, UAVs. It’s not hard to figure out. Just go through the articles.

      • cs4

        Be very afraid when they start innovating.

    • Vec

      Suppose to be world No 1 in tech and America vault of so called secret technology cannot defeat the China locksmith If allegations r true then Shame.Shame.Shame

    • tiger

      They did not “steal” everything. They produce more engineering students than we do every year. While typical US students major in Beer pong & loser BA majors like communications or art history. They are at Cal Tech sitting in a Thermodynamics course.

      • majr0d

        Maybe not “EVERYTHING” (their boots are domestic manufacture) but if you look at their weapons systems the overwhelming majority of their systems are foreign made, copies of foreign made stuff or look suprisingly like our stuff.

        They have adequate engineers but they have outstanding spies.

        • UAVgeek

          Exactly in accordance with the 13th Chapter of the Art of War I might add. People should read the playbook that the enemy orchestra is performing from.
          “Be subtle! Be Subtle! Use spies for every kind of business” -Sun Tzu

      • Jake

        Tiger, I’m fully aware that this is a military enthusiasts site with a clear bias, however I think you’re a little quick to write off arts and humanities degrees as ‘beer pong & loser’. I’m from the UK so I can’t speak with much authority on your education system, but I would like to point out that at present the US is amongst the world leaders in the creative industries.

        While undoubtedly there are many second-rate courses around there still remains a very high standard of arts and humanities degrees in the US. Graduates from these courses will contribute heavily to American society and culture — a society and culture that sets you apart from your economic and military rivals. China and Russia ,not to mention Iran and North Korea, have very undeveloped creative industries and education systems.

        Your creative education is something to be proud of. Hopefully it might also prove to be the basis for a society worth defending.

        • blight_

          I think the big question (outside of DefTech of course) is:

          ‘Graduates from these courses will contribute heavily to American society and culture’

          Trying to decide if Jersey Shore and Real Housewives… is worth defending. Thanks, reality TV (though you barely count as an “art”)

        • UAVgeek

          The problem is the loser students who get humanities degrees and have time to play beer pong end up going to business (and are typically one ethnic makeup) and the heads-down engineer types that they give orders to to build things are another ethnic make up. The big problem is here is that you can be an engineer who makes the jump to being an “ideas” person, but the “ideas” person cannot make the jump to being an engineer. To me China’s doing it the smart way: taking advantage of the West’s prejudice and feeling of entitlement to a superior position.

        • Matt

          I dont mean to discredit arts and the humanities degrees, however there is something I must critic re: the American education system.

          “Creative education” doesnt win wars or dominate economics or world politics. The West didnt win the Cold War because of the Rocky movies, we won (in part) by forcing the Soviets (who had a gov controled economy) to invest too heavily in military. NK and Iran arent behind because of a lack of “culture”, they are comiting atrocities and driving away powerful allies.

          As an American I can say that the country (as a whole) has to much of a “follow your dreams no matter what” and “college is for partying” mentality. High school students are encourged to get a degree at all costs, even if it has no practical value in the employment world and the student is more interested in parties that a degree. Our public high schools (I cant speak on private/charter) focus much more on English and fine arts than math/science or practical life skills.

      • Andy

        Just name one thing that China Invented ??? NOODLE ???

        • Thomas L. Nielsen


          Regards & all,

          Thomas L. Nielsen

          • Andy

            Yes, they claim spaghetti and gunpowder, but if you look at the history for the last hundred of years ……I rest my case…I still think Gunpowder and spaghetti are not China invention…is in they DNA COPY COPY COPY

          • Thomas L. Nielsen

            So your argument is that China necessarily must have “copied” noodles and gunpowder from someone else (like who?), because “copying is in their DNA”?

            Please tell me you have some actual evidence for that (and please note that “I still think….” is not evidence).

            Regards & all,

            Thomas L. Nielsen

        • Jake


          • jake rothchild Washington

            In ancien times in Asia, the powerfull impire persia engage a war victorious with old Indians side country were the enemies use kind of magic that they believe in were compose of smoking dust which u fired up it will consume fire or explosion. Which long ago in ages believe in to be the first races who use the gunpowder but not been recognize since the latter centuries when chinese took the idea and been founded as the creator of gunpowder. Which is definitely niy true and bias for the first ethnic tribe who use it. Which still unknown the origin.thats the the thing i can only share to you. Others are highlyclassified.

          • jake rothchild Washington

            In ancien times in Asia, the powerfull impire persia engage a war victorious with old Indians side country were the enemies use kind of magic that they believe in were compose of smoking dust which u fired up it will consume fire or explosion. Which long ago in ages believe in to be the first races who use the gunpowder but not been recognize since the latter centuries when chinese took the idea and been founded as the creator of gunpowder. Which is definitely niy true and bias for the first ethnic tribe who use it. Which still unknown the origin.thats the the thing i can only share to you. Others are highlyclassified.

  • blight_

    Posted this in the Kiowa Warrior thread, but……

    Perhaps we should can their JSF engine as retribution.

  • Jon

    I have a solution. FREE CABLE for all countries competing with the US. Within 20 years they won’t be able to find their own country on a GLOBE!

    • Tad

      My man, you are a genius! Free Big Gulps would also help.

      And along the same lines, if we want to chill out the middle east, just give them free air conditioners!

      • blight_

        The Qu’ran says nothing about air conditioners.

        “It’s too hot outside to plot jihad. Let’s stay here…”

        Anybody see that news article about malls in Iraq?

  • Lance

    I find more fear mongering about China is pointless I do agree more investment in education and technology is needed for our population.

    • JohnB

      More effective education, not the way college tuitions are sky-rocketing, and where most of the taxes money go to teachers’ retirement that produce less and less qualified high school students.

    • majr0d

      More “investment” in tech and education? We spend ten times what the Chinese do on education for a third of the population. The amount of money ISN’T the issue.

      • DanS

        Its an apples and oranges comparison. There are ZERO subsistence level farmers in the US. In China are about 350 million + subsistence level farmers. You have to use an accurate metric of comparison. If you compared money spent, you need to look at a similar first world power with like France (which is pretty similar with its own high-tech, automotive, aerospace segments combined with big agricultural and rural concerns).

        • majrod

          So subsitence farmers is the difference in education systems?

          Even subtracting 350 mil people (almost the population of the US) the Chinese still educate DOUBLE the people for as tenth of the cost.

          Nah, not buying.

    • Vec

      A very sane answer from the Harry Potter syndrome here.

    • Zip

      Aw fuck! Lance, you grew a brain!

    • tiger

      We have dumpped billions on Education. Even created a federal Department for it. Results? 75% of the avg. kids today are stil dumb as rocks.

    • Norseman4

      More money in education isn’t the answer.

      Bust the teacher’s unions and tenure. Advance teacher who perform well. Can the teachers that claim people have been arrested for disrespecting the president. THEN you’ll see a marked increase in the performance of our schools, but not before.

  • Jerry

    It’s called greed, the same defense contractors that have robbed America taxpayers blind.
    They flash the flag on their commercials that makes them a patriot. Now every ship that the navy Build is $ billion every aircraft they make, is hundreds of millions of dollars. Where does it end?

    • Belesari

      Yet it isnt the companies forcing you to buy. It isnt the companies demanding ships that can do everything and have stupid needs met.

      Ships are a billion dollars because: The people who make them are payed very well. The weapons the navy chooses to use are the most expensive possible. The planes they choose are the most expensive possible mostly because of the god of Stealth.

      The places they build them are expensive. The people they staff them with more so. And each state and city and senator and congressmen wants a peice of the pie as far as jobs and funding go.

      WE are the cause of these problems.

  • Marcellus Hambrick

    Thats what we get when we educate the top Chinese students, transfer technological know how, and sit idly by as high tech jobs sre transported overseas. Since the Clinton administration the US has been extremely lax with high technology transfer and enforcement.

    • blight_

      It all really started as a way to crush the American labor movement and bring prices down. Clinton could order companies to move overseas, but they won’t unless they see the dollar signs. It isn’t political, it was economic.

    • Vec

      Dont delude yourself about Chinese students being “educated” in America
      Sole purpose is to rob third world countries off their educated talent to stay in america.
      But does not work anymore as China can provide better facilities and nost r returning to China.
      Grand larceny of brillant students from the world is over.
      No longer american dream but American nightmare.

      • blight_

        Many are staying on in America, but are keeping their ears open to the opportunity to return home.

        • UAVgeek

          Actually there’s intel out that a huge percentage of the Chinese elite are quietly planning “Outs” to other countries in case the Central Government takes a dump. The US is one of those places.

    • tiger

      Our kids would rather play ball, drink beer, and take no show easy grade classes. I remember Engineering school. Not a frat type in the place.

      • Kirk Gibbs

        Graduated in a very social frat. Three of my best friends got engineering degrees while being a “frat type”. Another five current guys in it are engineers. Stop using frat as your go to fuck ups.

        • UAVgeek

          Wow, none of the engineering types I know are like that. Most are slaving away on projects or on other types of homework. Mech, Aero, Materials, Electrical, Computer people I know barely sleep during the school year. That tells me 1. Your friends are wealthy and don’t need side jobs or 2. ….Are you sure they are actually doing the work?

  • academic patriot

    It is hard to get US students interested in STEM degrees, especially advanced degrees, when all of the high money STEM jobs are in finance, and American industries prefer to buy cheap scientists/engineers/programmers from India and China with H-1 visas. With a PhD in mathematics, over forty refereed publications in math/stats/management, advanced training in statistics and physics, I have always made less than the B grade masters students that I send to jobs in industry get for their starting salaries. After 25 years post PhD and now managing a department of ten, I still make less than $75K, and until five years ago, less than $65 K. Starting salaries for business faculty at my school are over $110 K. You tell me what I should tell my bright students about where to aim.

    • Dfens

      Tell them to be engineers because if no one designs anything, the lawyers can only sue the doctors who cure people’s illnesses.

      • blight_

        Then it’s just the E, screwing ST and M? E is the only one that ever paid well, especially for a bachelor’s.

    • blight_

      Sounds about right. In the life sciences, a post doctoral researcher makes about 40k, after 4-5 years of undergrad and 4-5 more of graduate training.

      Those wages may as well be wages of a foreign country.

    • majr0d

      Your field is in matehmatics/stats/mgmt (again nothing against those fields) not engineering. Your experience is in academia (nothing against it) not in industry.

      Not the same as the guys creating the next weapons (though there are mathematicians on the teams).

      You have a tough story. It isn’t equivalent to defense industry’s needs.

      • joe

        Except I will support it from an industry perspective.
        Well-respected defence company (who have a vested interest in the health of engineering talent):
        Graduate Engineer Starting Salary - ~$40,000
        Finance Graduate Salary - ~$47,000 plus funded accountancy qualification

        again, which one would you look to?

        • majr0d

          I’m not a good comparison. I was selected for a commissioning program and joined served as an Infantry officer for 20 years. It wasn’t for the pay :)

          That aside salary is admittedly a pretty important criteria. It’s not the only one.

          BTW, what’s your source?

          “According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), aerospace engineers earned an average annual wage of $96,270 as of May 2009 http:// (”
          “Aerospace, aeronautical and astronautical engineers earn an average wage of $87,000 per year, with the highest 10% of them earning $124,550 and the lowest 10% on a salary of $59,610 per year. The average starting salary for aerospace engineers with a bachelors degree is $53,408 per year; for those with a masters degree they can expect to start on an average salary of around $62,549 per year; and those with doctorates start on an average salary of approximately $73,814.”

    • SJE

      Academia is not the same as industry, but its true that outside of academia STEM is also undervalued when compared with the amount of time and effort required for study etc. JD, MD and MBA get paid a lot more than PhD or MSc.

  • Stephen Russell

    Blame our Public Ed system & Chinese spying alone for Rise & US Tax code, trade policies since the 70s.

  • Jayson

    This is pin pointing perfectly at the education system that’s just a mess. No kid left behind making it non-motivating to actually get the education needed for universities is one. Zero tolerance to the point the teachers don’t allow sunscreen to be applied on sunny days is another massively bad problem. Then the US has a population of a hell lot less than China and if China raises their education system to the level of the US was a decade ago - look out!

    There’s a couple immediate issues and one long term issue and together is tilting the odds in Chinas favour in the future and I’m talking about the next decade imho.

  • Comrade Joe

    Espionage and copying still the main source of chinese military tech advancements. Even Russian military tech isn’t safe.

  • Emerson

    it’s simple….the US, Japan, and Germany have placed their most high-tech manufacturing factories in China, due to lower labor and logistics,…it would be dumb to assume the Chinese would not assimilate the tech that is sitting in their back yard.

  • Roland

    I still doubt China can out maneuver us on technology. Most of their jets are copies. And most copies don’t work at 100% level. Although they are good on math and science. They do invented the abacus.

    • Roland

      Oops sorry, the Sumarian is probably the one who invented the abacus on 2700-2300 BC.

    • tiger

      Oh really? We can not even build a decent car any more. Even the computer your typing on is not even made here.

      • majr0d

        It might not be made here but all the tech and innovation is.

      • jamFRIDGE

        I like to think the Ford Mustang and Chevy Corvette are decent cars.

        • joe

          Right up until, y’know, there’s a corner in the road.
          But hey, at least muscle cars look cool as they fail to go round them.

    • blight_

      Won’t matter if the west is happy to sell it to them

  • superraptor

    China will win. That does not mean we have to lose. We should have more joint projects with our allies. Some of their weapons are better, look at the Meteror AAM or the planned Perseus antiship missile.

  • duuude

    You want this, you want that but you don’t want to pay taxes (face palm), and then you won’t do shit about the greedy corporate fatcats that send all the jobs overseas. And as you sink deeper into the mire, you refuse to listen to potential solutions that smack of “socialism”.

    • Dfens

      What about the solutions that smack of capitalism? We now pay our contractors more to f up than we do if the come in with a good weapon on-time and on-budget. Can anyone guess what that kind of capitalist incentive does? Socialism beats the hell out of that system every time, but then so does capitalism where the profit incentive is in the right place.

      • blight_

        TR would laugh his ass off. Speak softly and carry a big carrot is what we’re doing.

    • majr0d

      duude - which tent are you posting from in that Occupy Wall Street demonstration?

      • Kirk Gibbs

        Give him a little credit. OWS doesn’t want a military at all.

        • majr0d

          Kirk - Where do you get he’s pro military?

      • duuude

        No doubt the Brits said a similar thing to all those damned protesters in Boston.

        • majr0d

          LOL, hardly. They didn’t pitch tents in the commons and crap on the street.

          What exactly are the similarities between the OWS crowd and our founding fathers?

          • Dfens

            Uh, I don’t know. Maybe they’re both tired of being crapped on by their own government?

          • blight_

            I was going to say authority issues, but that works

          • majr0d

            “Crapped on” has changed over time. It used to be when the Gov’t took from you now its because the gov’t won’t give you.

  • JackBlack

    China military = BE VERY AFRAID ( since 2 November 1950 Korea ).

    • majr0d

      True. There’s a lot of them and they were copying our gear even back then.

    • tiger

      Dead Grandfather in Arlington would agree.

  • Dfens

    Keep guessing.

  • Dfens

    The most important thing is that we continue to pay our defense contractors more to screw up and drag out weapons development than we do if they come up with good, reliable weapons on-time and on-budget. Let’s never change that system, because it is working out so damn well for China.

  • firoo

    Go china go well done :P

    • majr0d

      Well said! Straight from one of many Chinese spies stealing our technology.

  • STemplar

    We aren’t going to solve education issues in the this nation without leadership. It doesn’t require more money and the focus shouldn’t just be on raw numbers for test scores. I’d say the biggest obstacle falls right back on the partisanship that grips DC.

    The right can’t promote things like advances in aircraft and weapon systems or they are demonized as war mongers. The left can’t promote innovation in renewable energy production without being assailed as wasting money on fairy tale tech. The Obama admin sees space as a wasteful extravagance in tough times. The Republicans see $ committed to large public infrastructure projects like high speed rail as welfare pork. Both sides ran willy nilly into free trade agreements without a thought to what that would do to the manufacturing base and the skilled hands on tech associated with it. Neither side is terribly innovative in pushing for support for new thinking in where we put higher education $. The Republicans won’t support wind and solar energy innovation. The Democrats won’t support advances in existing tech like clean coal and leveraging our vast oil shale reserves. Then everyone stands there and wonders why our young people don’t have a clue and no direction in life. Our leader aren’t giving them any.

    • yashpahade

      Its all about politics now….none of them give rats ass anymore..

    • blight_

      “Both sides ran willy nilly into free trade agreements without a thought to what that would do to the manufacturing base and the skilled hands on tech associated with it. Neither side is terribly innovative in pushing for support for new thinking in where we put higher education $. […]Then everyone stands there and wonders why our young people don’t have a clue and no direction in life.”

      For truth.

      That said, you voice an assumption that people depend on government leadership to do things, which isn’t always true.

      It was inevitable that our mfr sectors would collapse, since there’s an air of the Greed-is-Good ’80s still hanging out in the boardroom.

  • Garrett

    You know, if the Chinese are so friggin smart, why does their new stealth jet (which likely isn’t really all that stealthy) use Russian engines? Quite frankly most of the technological innovation in the world was created in the U.S. The Chinese, like the Japanese in the 80s, are great at copying but poor at innovating.

    • Chops

      The Chinese have a new market of engines to copy now in the form of the newest Russian fighters,that is because Putin hates the USA so much that he will sell anything to anyone to stick it to the US.Eventually the Chinese are going to successfully clone a supercruise thrust vectoring Russian engine [ if they havn’t already ] and advance their military aviation industry by 15-20 yrs in one fell swoop.

    • cs4

      You are right. Most of the technological innovation were created in the US, but how many of them are ready for consumers? That’s why the Japanese kicked your butts, they did more R but even more D.

      • majr0d

        Kicked our butt? By what measure? tWhere’s Japan now? Whose military equipment do they use?

        • cs4

          Surely, you don’t expect Japanese to buy your military equipment because it is the best? They bought it because of politics. Like the recent F35 purchase, only 4 jets? C’mon, if it is that good, they would at least signed for 40 in a flash. The deal was only meant to appease your leaders. Many consumer electronics have components that can be used in the military, how many of the CE were made in the US of A?

          • majr0d

            The F35 you’re only example?

            So easy to forget F15s, F16s, AWACS.P3 Orions, Aegis class destroyers UH1s, AH1s, CH47s, AH64s, UH60s, MLRS, Patriot and even the M4?

          • cs4

            Most of them were bought after the US military had put them in use, after they were debugged. F35 is still a long way from being operational.

          • majr0d

            First the Japanese kicked our butts. Then they don’t buy our equipment because it’s the best. Now they only buy it “after” the bugsare worked out. You’re all over the map.

          • Riceball

            I think the Japanese haven’t worked on their military tech because of WW II and their constitution. Because of their aggression right before and during WW II their constitution only allows for a self-defense force and since then military service is, if not exactly looked down upon, not exactly popular and I’d imagine that extends to their arms industry. Besides, if you’re only permitted a self-defense force with no “offensive” weapons then why would you bother developing a lot of your own weapon’s tech when you can just simply pick and choose whatever suits your needs the best?

          • majr0d

            There are some systems specifically prohibited by thye Japanese constitution. E.G. ICBMs, Aircraft Carriers, Bombers. They even limit their naval replenishment forces to limit employment beyond Japanese waters.

            That said the Japanese have a robust domestic weapons industry…

            Tanks: Type 10, 90 & 74
            APC: Type 89 & 73
            Hyūga-class helicopter destroyer
            Various small arms and fighting vehicles, missiles etc.
            (NOTE: Japanese type __ are vehicles of domestic dev elopment, innovation and construction. They don’t import a T72 and reverse engineer it like the Chinese)

            The Japanese don’t have a problem importing weapons systems but they have struck a balance with domestic production and unlike many countries don’t export a lot which is probably why thier stuff isn’t well known.

    • tiger

      THe folks at Rolls Royce would beg to differ. Flag waving is clouding common sense.

      • Dfens

        Flag waving is common sense. Hell, if the US is so damn white hot, why do we have to buy our rocket engines from the f’ing Russians?

        • blight_

          We’re just subcontracting the Russians for supply flights to ISS, because the only rockets we seem to have left are the ones that launch satellites or launch nuclear missiles.

          And in any case, aren’t the Russian resupply rockets (Progress?) teleoperated?

          • Dfens

            The Atlas uses Russian engines. Neither NASA nor the USAF have a rocket that can take a man to low earth orbit right now, which is why we buy rides on Russian rockets. They use the Russian resupply vehicles because they’re already using them to launch the asstronauts.

  • majr0d

    BS flag! (My previous post was deleted for reasons unknow. Can’t handle the truth?)

    China can only “catch us” if we stop creating and being innovative. All they have demonstrated to date is an exceptionally dangerous ability to steal our technology and an adept ability to copy it but they have not demonstrated any innovation.

    Shut down cyber espionage and China’s sprint will become a crawl.
    Predict I will get tons of negatives or be deleted (again) because i’m not jumping on the “we have to spend more on education” train (we already spend ten times as much as the Chinese for a third of the population) and those that bow at the altar of Chinese greatness and get offended by the truth.

    • tiger

      What have we made lately that was so “innovative?” A blue pill that give you a 12 hour hard on? Or perhaps the “McRib?”

      • majr0d

        The F22, X37B, jet engines, precision munitions, armed UAVs just go through the articles here.

        • cs4

          Anything that is not engineered for more effective killing?

          • Chops

            Radios,TVs,CDs, DVDs and on and on -look it up on the internet on- China cyber attacks on commercial and defense contractors-there are hundreds of sites detailing not only defense tech theft but also commercial intellectual property theft -including continual property right [patent infringement ] theft.

          • majr0d

            cs4 - You do realize you’re on Defense Tech and not Martha Stewart’s blog?

          • cs4

            You’re right. It is DEFENSE tech not offense. China has one little carrier (compared to yours) and all hell breaks loose about them trying to attack the US. One new but inferior (compared to yours) fighter and you are sending in the marines to wreck havoc. So trigger happy, no wonder you keep making enemies. If they have stolen your technology, move to a higher level, crying about it won’t get it back. They’ve hacked into your system, change the locks or the system. They competed unfairly, then innovate to nullify the advantage. You guys have been saying how innovative you are, now is the time to show it.

          • blight_

            The people in defense and aerospace are hopefully innovating while we type. Well, one hopes.

          • Dfens

            You want to know what really happens to your money? You pay defense contractors a $1.10 for every $1.00 they spend on development. That $0.10 is free money. Why ever come up with a product when you can continue to do “development” for as long as that government cow will stand there and be milked? Your tax dollars hard at work!

          • majr0d

            LOL True! reminds me of the Dep’t of education. We give more money to low performing school systems to fix problems. Where’s the motivation to fix the problem?

            “Uh Oh! You didn’t just equate education spending waste to defense spending waste! No you didn’t!”

            Yep, it’s not right. Neither are. It’s just one form of waste is PC.

          • majr0d

            cs4 - Your right. We should change the locks but don’t try to take credit for advances you didn’t EARN unless you’re trying ti justify stealing.

            Sending in the Marines? Making more enemies? That Chinese state propaganda IS effective!

        • blight_

          It might be better to boil it down in terms of technologies:

          The United States is /the/ leader in fighter jet engine technology. The F-119 and the F-135/136 are well ahead of the competition, though the Russians have 3D thrust vector against the Raptor’s 2D. But in terms of supercruise and performance, it seems that America is ahead, but we might be surprised someday.

          Our precision munitions are good because we have the GPS constellation and presumably the ground station infrastructure that can be forward deployed to enhance accuracy of our PGMs. Everyone else would have to plug into our GPS system, or deploy their own GLONASS, Beidou, Galileo and whatnot. Conceivably new satellites would have newer tech and the potential for greater accuracy, but we have the atomic clocks, the full constellation with backups and the TTP.

          For UAVs, we have the SATCOM infrastructure for teleoperation, though not without its weaknesses.

          For the PRC, the danger is trying too hard to mirror us. The only way you’d catch up is by getting to the point that our R&D exhausts our funds, and being slightly behind and not wasting money on R&D puts you ahead in costs and ability to scale and deploy.

      • Chops

        Surprised by your comments Tiger,you’re on here all the time and know full well the scope of tech theft by China and the contractors in the US that they hit-or are you playing devils’ advocate?

        • tiger

          Just giving some ballance. Yes, they do have a active spy network. But they are not a bunch of dumb peasants in rice fields either. They are our real rival in the world of the 21st century. The 19th belonged to Britain. The 20th to the US. Time for the next gen folks.

          • Chops

            Never said or even implied that they were dumb-quite the contrary-I just wish they would adhere to the standards as far as property rights that most of the rest of the world abides by.

        • tiger

          Sorry, A bit depressed lately. Guess I’m venting at the world. Looking at bills and a doing a temp job for peanuts will do that to you. I wish I could step in the wayback machine and change things. At least I can work the brain cells here for a bit. Just wish I was earning a check for it.

          • Chops

            Used to have to put in 60-65hrs a week to take home $300 w/ a wife and 3 kids -so I know what you mean-but that just goes to strengthen our arguements that our politicians need to worry about the American citizens and quit outsourcing jobs to foreign countries that are continually stealing our technology.

          • Chops

            Add-I’m sure the citizens of a lot of other countries feel the same way and are just as frustrated

          • Dfens

            Maybe one day you’ll get frustrated enough to stop paying defense contractors to screw you…

          • Chops

            Only way to do that is to get rid of the crooked politicians that are lining their pockets while approving the continual screwing from the defense contractors.

          • Dfens

            I don’t think it is. The procurement rules by which the military buys weapons is not coded in law. It is part of the Federal Acquisition Rules that are basically written by some Washington DC bureaucrats. Seems to me like a little sunlight is all that would really be needed to fix these. Some people talking about the real problem and not following every red herring the military industrial complex throws out there would probably fix things pretty quick.

          • Batman

            They do, I’m in the UK struggling to pay a mortgage and feed three kids on a builder’s wage. I get mildly annoyed when I see my tax being spent on Indian development programmes so they can spend their money on nuclear weapons. I’d rather use the money to contribute to the US carrier groups since we don’t bloody well have any anymore!!!!!!!!!!

  • Nmate

    Are we talking primary or secondary education? I think it’ll be awhile before China could match the US on secondary education, that takes a lot of time and effort. As for primary education, passing the US isn’t that difficult. This nation’s primary education system, particularly in regards to math and science, is absolute trash.

  • cenobyte

    Does help that if you are smart at all you get called intelectually elitist. Who wants to be smart when the world has turned into middleschool jokes picking on the nerds?

    Everyone can screw themselves over, I have my solar and wind system, lots of land, mostly wooded, with wells, natural springs, pond, orchard, berry patches and melon fields. No one wants to listen to the smart ones about energy and job loose there is nothing I can do about that, but I am not going to let there mistake screw me.

  • ALMan29

    China is not far from us, but it will reach our technology, if we continue buying their products, sending them jobs, and sink our country.
    Buy products that are made in US/EU/JP, Everything that is our allies.. otherwise… we are screwed up!

  • Auyong Ah Meng

    I understand some posters mentioned the quality hardware of the US military.

    Remember please Stalin’s refrain “Quantity has a quality all its own”.

    They don’t need to have the best…just close enough and backed up with numbers in large quantities…one wil stil go down.

    This is not good..

    • majr0d

      You have a point but you might want to look at the numbers when western and eastern Air Forces have clashed. I don’t think even China can but that many targets in the air.

  • Max

    Yeah but they don’t have Area 51 with anti-gravity propulsion UFO craft! Or do they?

  • nate

    That explains why no ROTC engineering majors are getting flight slots! They need the engineers to manufacture the next generation of defense.

    • Dfens

      Like hell! They are going to use them to watch the theiving contractors rob us blind while not giving them any authority to do anything about it. Talk about a miserable job… That’s why the suicide rate at Wright Patterson AFB is so damn high!

  • BRIC Together

    Its not bad.
    America must be destroyed.
    World only will achieve the peace, when US and NATO burn to death.

    • Maxtrue

      After this remark I will always wonder why Defense Tech EVER deleted any of my comments. All I can add is that China is about the only country that ever floated a document from the top called “unrestricted warfare”.

      • blight_

        But the warfare is needed against the drone attack bomber aggressions of the NATO


    • majr0d

      Its good to let the enemy talk. You know what they are thinking.

  • blight_

    The world would be better under the Comintern, amirite?

    • BRIC Together

      World would be better with any shit instead of NATO.
      The hate against United State is growing more and more, year per year. And you dont stop to think, still doing tha same thing always…so, dont blame.

  • Vaporhead

    So, you are saying the teachers union does not tolerate unqualified teachers in it’s ranks? These unions harbor these ineffective teachers, which is detrimental to the education system.

  • America Ant

    Bric-which I suppose means born and raised in china. Hope you’re not writing these emails in the US. It’s amusing how people love to critique the US,yet come and take advantage of our secondary education and the luxuries of life. America won’t be destroyed by China-it can only be destroyed by itself.That won’t happen in our lifetime.

    • Skyepapa

      BRIC = Brazil, Russia, India, China. A sub for the G8. Not to be taken lightly.

      • blight_

        Strangely, Russia remains on the G8. China and Brazil would otherwise belong on the G8; but don’t.

  • IronV

    Then how do you explain the stuff they steal, copy and make is JUNK?

  • John

    This is pure agitprop from the military / indistrial complex. They know big cuts are coming now that the nation is insolvent, and they want to shield themselves from the inevitable.

    But here’s a question: Are the defense contractors really so inefficient and wasteful that a nation with a military bidget ONE-TENTH of ours can catch them so easily?

    Maybe if they didn’t take 20 years and fifty billion dollars to design a single aircraft, they wouldn’t be in this mess.

    Oh well. Expect cuts.

  • PolicyWonk

    Pat Buchanan wrote extensively about the selling out of American manufacturing to the communist Chinese from 2002-2008, while bemoaning the transfer of many hard-won dual-use technologies and manufacturing techniques in return for short term profits and/or campaign donations from lobbyists. Added to that is the loss of high-paying American jobs and the loss of the tax base. Buchanan predicted all these very events being written about today.

    Too bad the administration couldn’t be bothered to listen. This is why the money in politics and lobbying system is rotten to the core, and causing the selling out of American National Security.

    What a shame.

  • Bellcross

    /Yawn Enough of the Chinamongering.

  • joe

    Jet engine advances in terms of ‘this is an afterburner’ - yes, I agree that’s easy. But the things that make advanced jet engines difficult to make (metallurgy and manufacturing techniques) are no less complex than electronics. Single-crystal metal structures, for example, took one of the world’s most accomplished materials labs half a decade to get right. I assure you that you can’t build one in a machine shop - or rather you can, provided you’re looking for subsonic ME262 performance and don’t mind losing a few aircraft to catastrophic structural failure.

  • James Thomas

    I believe that America is going to have to bring more manufacturing back to America in order for it it explore more options on how to progress. Once people in America have a chance at jobs and can explore innovations, we can become better.

    • cs4

      Amen to that.

  • Dfens

    Look at all that defense contractors have done for us. We used to have a 600 ship navy when the Navy designed their own ships. Now they can’t keep 300 little crappy ships afloat. We used to be able to send men to the moon when NASA designed its own rockets. Now we can’t send men to the space station without hiring a ride from the Russians. Our biggest enemy isn’t China or Russia. We are our own biggest enemy.

  • Mastro

    “A quick Google search can reveal the massive gains China’s manufacturing and education sectors have made over the last three decades.”

    Quick Google searches are overrated- China still makes a lot of junk- we just have to keep and eye on them.

  • GioC

    It’so stupid to say that chinese need 10 years when the tecchnology is changing in minutes . There are invented predictions , and are false . 10 years or ten minutes , the only that need sombodu for to learn is money and a good teacher and things for practice.
    Ten years , don’t lie . We are not fool people . You need to seek again for the bright minds in the Universities like in teh ancient time . Come back to the MIT time .

    • blight_

      “the only that need sombodu for to learn is money and a good teacher and things for practice. ”

      So money to have an employer or academic institution in the west to teach you, or money to buy a design license, or money to just import foreign designs for direct deployment or money to outright steal products in industrial espionage plus practice time to build your own?

  • vec

    Accordingly tyo Wall Street Jornal the next tech innovation centre will be in China.

    Goodbye Pax America.
    Wake up and read Pax Americana Wall Street Journal about the progress of Chinese technology and wake up from your delusion and dreams at the following web sites
    China to Over Take Silicon Valley.……

  • jordan Shwarts

    one man per prison or jail gets out to a hut shack 1000 miles of the dirt road. 4000 foot strap or 3000 foot strap-locktite new clothes from the store and a picture standing in desert to give to friends tray comes with a locked lid the one scared of murduree or been there to long gets this privlige quitest spot on the map the prison warden will escort the man deliverd by the courts to the new sector one man per prison. Hospital is a lock up biulding to dont forget!! HE wants out!!!!

  • anthony

    We know we are ahead and it will stay there as long as we keep checking backgrounds..

  • Frank

    There is not going to be war between superpower, every decision maker know this except fools who got fed distorted news everyday. Yes, both side will leak their weapon innovation to keep the fund coming, that is the real game, not nuclear war.

  • norm

    the chinese are no longer, a russian toy they are the superpower. both eco-and military. they have an army and now an air force and a navy. there stealth program i think is going to take time, like the u.S program did. and billions of dollars or yen. no dis respect to china

    • blight_

      Once they refine the radar cross section equations for an aerodynamic fighter (easier to do now when you have LINPACK TOP500 supercomputers) it won’t be hard for them to crank out shapes with low cross sections, but there’s still a technical hurdle to optimizing every aspect of your design for stealth.

      That said, it does mean they can crank out new fighters with legacy tech but better RCS than our fighters, which were designed in a time before RCS was a major consideration, or before we had the tools to optimize shapes.

      The future may see us pitting legacy high RCS, high tech designs against low tech, medium RCS designs. We’ll see what wins there. Either RCS carries the day or it doesn’t.

  • timothy pickard
  • E.fulton

    We need to focus on intelligence natural intelligence not so called book smarts. Focus on the people our gov writes off as ADD or OCD.,both of which when interested in something can’t be outshines. But in other areas were there is no interest others pass..look for bright light not just steady dimly lit bulbs that stay lit but only move at the same speed in everything. Inspire some1 with add an watch them build given that they have an inert intelligence that out distances even their ability to “properly” articulate their thoughts…like myself.

  • John

    I don’t see any problem.China and India have everything to loose if war breaks out which if a major conflict would go nuclear very quickly therefore everybody looses.
    However if they carry on as they are they will soon become on top of the world.
    The USA is bankrupt it’s people are only interested in shooting each other and as the UK before it are now fast becoming has Beens .
    China has nukes if they have any sense they will stamp hard on the muslim idiots and they are in a prime position to leap way ahead of all competition in technology and manufacturing.

  • Jayadeep Chellath

    Espionage is normal and the superiority of espionage make one competitive. Now when you say American companies set up manufacturing in china. manufacturing does not give a clue about planning and upgrading the machinery. Reverse engineering is very expensive and tedious job. They have to rebuild and repair a thousand time and meanwhile they may be learning even superior solution if they are smart. Besides reverse engineering by a poor country is impossible. 1982s India would not be able to reverse engineer Samsung three. Running the country by smart investing give the country edge on his counter part. For example if India can launch a 5 ton satellite for 50 million dollar then they will wipe out rest of the competitors. So the competes have a choice to merge with Indian industry or invest in a science to develop an even cheaper technology. Siting in the basement and coughing out racial slur is garbage.

  • Joe Albe

    If the us military/NASA would get the Chinese our of their back pocket on technological programs and keep “how too” manuals stored in a safe place the Chinese would still be in the stone age. But of course what would our defense establishment do if there was no one to compete against….

  • Jake Rotchild Washington

    China will stay down!chinese wont challenge us bcos it could be a massive destruction for them and it will draw damage in the world. And we wont our lies hit the damage also.

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