Technology

Pentagon spent $95.3B on space and future warfare tech: DoD annual audit

DoD invested in AI, hypersonics, directed energy, and autonomous systems, which are likely to revolutionize the future of warfare

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The Pentagon releases its annual audit showing that it invested $95.3 billion this year on space and future warfare tech R&D such as AI, hypersonics, and directed energy.

“Significant increases in next generation aviation and space systems development led the way”

The Department of Defense (DoD) spent 13.9% of the $687.8 billion total defense budget on Research, Development, Test, and Evaluation (RDT&E) in the fiscal year 2019.

In total RDT&E funding increased $3.6 billion from last year, bringing this year’s total to $95.3 billion, with a focus on space technology and technology that will likely revolutionize the future of warfare.

According to the 268-page audit:

  • The $95.3 billion in funds this year provided for critical investments in basic and applied technologies, advanced technology development, prototypes, and design and development for major acquisition programs.
  • Additionally, the DoD solidified its investment in key technologies such as artificial intelligence, hypersonics, directed energy, and autonomous/unmanned systems, which are likely to revolutionize the future of warfare.
  • The funds also provided for upgrades to ensure that weapon systems used today and those developed for the future will provide capabilities to maintain a technological advantage over potential US adversaries.
  • Significant increases in next generation aviation and space systems development led the way, especially with such programs as the Long Range Strike Bomber, F-35 Continuous Capability Development and Delivery, 6th generation jet fighter development, modernization of nuclear enterprise systems, and the Next Generation Overhead Infrared Reconnaissance satellite development.

The majority of funds in 2019 went to Operation and Maintenance with a whopping $281.8 billion, which was $8.6 billion more than last year.

DARPA Gets $3.4 Billion

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is usually the first to come out with revolutionary technologies for military use before they become commercially available, such as the tech that goes into virtual assistants like Alexa, Siri, or Cortana.

The Department’s FY 2019 funding for the Science and Technology program increased by more than $1.0 billion to $14.1 billion, including a DARPA budget of $3.4 billion to develop technologies for revolutionary, high-payoff military capabilities.

The audit highlights:

  • The Department’s FY 2019 RDT&E program continues its focus on the development and advancement of technologically superior systems, ensuring an overmatched capability to counter any new and emerging threats.
  • These efforts include applied research and development; advanced prototyping to foster innovation and leverage commercial and non-traditional technologies; advanced manufacturing techniques; technology demonstrations; and technology experimentation.
  • In addition, the DoD is addressing the erosion of technological superiority by identifying and investing in innovative technologies and processes that sustain and advance America’s military dominance.

Today, China and the US are neck and neck for technological superiority, and the US government sees Chinese espionage, hacking, and intellectual property theft as major national security concerns.

US vs China Race for Technological Superiority

china steals us technology

China is either at par with or surpassing the US in many areas of technology such as quantum sciences, artificial intelligence, 5G, and genome sequencing to name a few.

In fact China has more data on the genetic sequencing of the US population than the United States has on its own population.

”China devotes significant resources at a national level to infiltrate our universities and our labs. And they are doing it for a reason. They’ve even coined the phrase … ‘Picking flowers in the US to make honey in China,’ which I would say perfectly illustrates their deliberate plan to steal R&D, knowhow, and technology to advance their military capability. They are not even hiding it.”

“China is stealing our stuff … and they’re not even hiding it”

Last week FBI Director Christopher Wray said that China was greatest counterintelligence threat the US faced.

“I think that the Chinese counterintelligence threat, especially on the economic espionage side, is the single greatest counterintelligence threat we face. Period,” he said.

In October Air Force Maj. Gen. Thomas E. Murphy, who is the director of the DoD’s Protecting Critical Technology Task Force, said that China was stealing our stuff and not even hiding it.

”China devotes significant resources at a national level to infiltrate our universities and our labs. And they are doing it for a reason. They’ve even coined the phrase … ‘Picking flowers in the US to make honey in China,’ which I would say perfectly illustrates their deliberate plan to steal R&D, knowhow, and technology to advance their military capability. They are not even hiding it,” he said.

And earlier this month the Senate Subcommittee on Crime and Terrorism held a hearing on “How Corporations and Big Tech Leave Our Data Exposed to Criminals, China, and Other Bad Actors” where the issue of China being a huge national security threat was front and center.

In his testimony, William Carter, Deputy Director and Fellow at Center for Strategic and International Studies, testified:

“By exfiltrating data from the US Government (USG) Office of Personnel Management (OPM), health insurers (e.g. Anthem), airlines (e.g. United) and hotel chains (e.g. Marriott), among others, China’s intelligence services have access to an incredibly rich database on the behavior, preferences, and vulnerabilities of hundreds of millions of Americans.”

‘China is building database on vulnerabilities of hundreds of millions of Americans’

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Tim Hinchliffe
Tim Hinchliffe is the editor of The Sociable. His passions include writing about how technology impacts society and the parallels between Artificial Intelligence and Mythology. Previously, he was a reporter for the Ghanaian Chronicle in West Africa and an editor at Colombia Reports in South America. tim@sociable.co