America is Losing the Technology Race

The United States has long prized its status as not only the world’s sole remaining superpower, but also the technological superpower. Modern aircraft, computers, nuclear weapons, space travel, telecommunications, the internet, and an assortment of other devices that most people globally simply take for granted can find their roots in the United States at some point in their development. America was a key player in the industrial revolution of the nineteenth century. Then, the United States dominated the industrial high-tech revolution of the twentieth century. It has long been assumed that America will continue dominating this new, fourth industrial revolution, that has defined the twenty-first century.

This is a flawed assumption.

Recently, I was asked to speak to the US Air Force’s Western Air Defense Sector (WADS) about the possibility that the homeland might be confronted with an adversary wielding superior technology. What I told them was simple: the US is far too complacent. We are losing the race for the future because we’re resting on our past greatness. Other, nimbler, hungrier states–notably China–are rising and they are coming for that which we believe to be our greatest strength: our technological greatness.

Frankly, we’re not that great anymore.

That’s why the recent wave of interest in Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon (UAP) is so interesting. Everyone is simply assuming that it’s extraterrestrials–aliens. What few seem willing to entertain, however, is the very real possibility that (at least some of) the UAPs may belong to a rival state, like China.

It seems strange to me that so few people, either in the media or in the general public, are willing to entertain the notion that we might have just been outclassed technologically by one or two of our Earthbound rivals. As Neil deGrasse Tyson is so quick to say, “It’s not aliens!” This was also the consensus (which, of course, we should always be careful about consensuses one way or the other) of a recent Clubhouse chat I briefly sat in on among Silicon Valley-types and scientists.

We know, for example, that China has spearheaded research and development of exotic quantum computing capabilities, such as the quantum internet. Beijing has also developed a rudimentary quantum internet that, when tied to the Russian-built S-400 air defense system, could essentially render America’s vaunted stealth technology completely obsolete and vulnerable to ground-based interceptors. Beyond that, China has developed the international infrastructure necessary to dominate the 5G internet revolution…and they are apparently ahead of the Americans in 6G as well. Welcome to the China-dominated future. Hope you can speak Mandarin and love high-tech autocracy!

Meanwhile, Russia and China have both leapfrogged the Americans in hypersonic technology. This is next-generation-type technology that could essentially render America’s air defenses useless. And I’m not just referring to air defense of US military bases or warships operating far over-the-horizon, away from the United States. I’m referring to hypersonic technology that could directly threaten the American homeland.

Recently, Beijing proved that it has developed the world’s most advanced and largest hypersonic testing wind tunnel, known as the JF-21. This wind tunnel allows for Chinese scientists to test more sophisticated and larger hypersonic vehicles than their American rivals can at the US Navy’s LENS II facility. The JF-21 facility tests hypersonic technology for 130 milliseconds as opposed to the LENS II’s limited 80 millisecond capabilities. This may seem like very tiny differences in time (to you or I, it is). But, from an engineering perspective it’s a game-changer. And, when combined with China’s mass production capabilities (that the United States has lacked ever since it outsource basically everything to China and the developing world), China could mass produce a fleet of hypersonic attack aircraft or unmanned kill vehicles that could be launched from China and hit anywhere in the world as fast as it takes Dominos to deliver a pizza to your doorstep (so, half-an-hour).

Russia, too, has developed a suite of advanced hypersonic technologies. It has recently tested hypersonic kill vehicles and has also demonstrated a technology that can purportedly evade most Western air defense systems. This indicates a desire on both the part of Beijing and Moscow to target–and possibly preemptive attack–the American homeland with an arsenal of advanced technologies that the United States has yet to develop.

All of this proves that which I’ve been warning about for years: America’s competitive edge in high-technology is dulling. The United States, in key strategic areas, is losing to its rivals. We should be prepared for the eventuality that those rivals will actually deploy their advanced technologies against the United States in an attempt to defeat us before we can acquire similar technology that could deter either Russia or China from imposing their will upon the world. The recent UAP encounters with the United States military are a dire warning: we are not yet ready. We are going to get hit by our foes. And they likely possess capabilities that we’ve yet to match.

The 2020s are proving to be a most dangerous decade. One thing should be clear (it’s not but it should be): the American leadership is totally unprepared for what is coming next. We’ve all soothed ourselves into believing that no one could or would dare to challenge the United States militarily. But the presence of exotic technologies in the hands of our enemies means that those enemies are far more inclined to gamble and attack. After all, America’s foes of the last century, the Imperial Japanese, for example had access to advanced technology (aircraft carriers) that they used to great effects on the unsuspecting Americans. Nazi Germany, as well, had access to truly advanced capabilities that they giddily used on all of their enemies. It took America time and the fact that they were geographically separated from these two foes to ultimate overcome those foes.

The fact that the United States was larger and had greater latent industrial capacities also helped them to defeat the Axis Powers of the Second World War. In a third global conflict–this time against either Russia and/or China–the US exists in a world made smaller, due to globalization; and both Russia and China are large adversaries…and their access to advanced technology, coupled with China’s mass production capabilities, could spell the end of the United States in any conflict.

There’s some depressing food for thought for you. Don’t be distracted by all of this alien nonsense. Focus on the real threats and just how vulnerable we really are.

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