U.S. Asian Allies Raise Regional Stakes With Military Spending

By Michael Fabey
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

“The upside is that the U.S. is giving the Asia-Pacific—especially the small Southeast Asia countries—the kind of assurances they've always wanted.”

U.S. guidance on key regional security issues has been something the countries there have been seeking, he says, especially when American forces were more focused on Iraq and Afghanistan. “But the negative is they're putting across this 'small footprint,'” he says, noting there is no “major” show of power.

Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the U.S. chief of naval operations, acknowledges that the Navy is moving only 10 additional ships to the Asia-Pacific as part of the U.S. plan to rebalance and shift more of its forces to this part of the world.

But, he says, the Navy will be getting more capability from those ships, compared to traditional vessels, as well as aircraft and related assets being deployed in the region.

Boeing P-8A Poseidon aircraft will replace P-3C Orions, he points out, adding, “They have longer range and better processors.”

The Navy also will be employing advanced Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornets and, when the aircraft are ready, Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters to the region, he says, as well as the most advanced torpedoes, missiles and other weapons.

But U.S. regional partners and allies are making much larger investments in their military capabilities. In terms of percentages, the largest known increase for all of the Asian countries analyzed in the coming half-decade is for research and development, which is slated to increase by about 66%, to about $61.4 billion from between 2013 and 2018, from about $36.9 billion from 2008-12.

Procurement in the coming five years will increase by about 61% to around $379.6 billion, compared to the $235.9 billion invested between 2008 and 2012, the analysis shows.

The Asian nations are concentrating on naval and other maritime assets between now and 2018, with plans to buy 263 surface vessels, 31 submarines, 18 rotorcraft (with increasing interest in the Sikorsky MH-60 Seahawk), 13 fixed-wing aircraft and five unmanned “maritime unmanned systems,” the analysis shows.

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