Russia and China are trying to close the technology gap with the U.S. military and developing weapons systems that appear designed to counter traditional U.S. advantages, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said on Wednesday.
Hagel said the Pentagon was renewing a push to revamp how it works with the defense industry. The goal, he said, was to promote greater innovation needed to preserve America's technological edge, even at a time of tighter budgets.
"While the United States currently has a decisive military and technological edge over any potential adversary, our future superiority is not a given," Hagel told a defense industry forum in Rhode Island.
U.S. defense officials have watched as Moscow and Beijing have tested a string of sophisticated weapons, from radar-evading aircraft and anti-ship missiles that fly many times the speed of sound, to integrated air defenses.
While the Defense Department's spending of around $500 billion is still more than the next six or seven countries combined, research and development spending has fallen more than 20 percent since President Barack Obama took office.
"China and Russia have been trying to close the technology gap by pursuing and funding long-term, comprehensive military modernization programs," Hagel said.