14 Aug 2018 15:20

U.S. may increase technological advantage with increased defense budget - expert

MOSCOW. Aug 14 (Interfax-AVN) - The United States' 2019 defense budget will boost the United States' technological leap in the elaboration of new weapons, according to Russian military expert and academician Alexei Arbatov.

"The United States is already ahead of the rest by most measures, especially from the angle of scientific and technological groundwork - information control systems and precision-guided weapons. It looks like the new budget will boost their advantage," Arbatov, the head of the International Security Center at the Russian Academy of Sciences' Institute of World Economy and International Relations, told Interfax on Tuesday.

U.S. President Donald Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) at the Fort Drum military base in the state of New York on Monday. The U.S. Senate earlier backed the $717 billion defense budget. According to the U.S. press, the budget assigns funds for countering Russia.

"After being economical for a long time, the Trump-led United States begins to modernize its strategic nuclear and conventional forces. They are entering the cycle which Russia has been going through for the past decade. Trump has added fundamental science to the new defense budget, which should let them make a quality leap forward," Arbatov said.

"One must realize that the heavy defense spending of the United States results from the high cost of advanced weapons. One mustn't forget, either, that the United States spends a lot on the keep of its personnel. Their entire army is recruited by contract. Colossal funds, nearly half of the budget, are spent on paying servicemen and providing them health insurance, social benefits, bonuses, and homes," he said.

"Their contract soldier is paid ten times more than ours; this may be disturbing, but it has no effect on our security," Arbatov said.

"A threat to Russia may come from what the United States could buy and commission with its new budget. The modernization of strategic nuclear forces, including the development of new precision-guided and low-yield weapons, is targeted 80% against Russia and 20% against China," he said.

The new defense budget could be the U.S.'s answer to new Russian weapons presented in the Russian president's address to the Federal Assembly on March 1, Arbatov said.

"This is how Trump is responding. He is under colossal pressure from the defense sector and the political establishment of the United States. They saw that as a challenge. And they are responding to it," Arbatov said.

It was formally announced on March 1 that Russia had begun the active phase of testing its new Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, which would replace the world's heaviest strategic missile, Voyevoda. Russia also said it had hypersonic Avangard and Kinzhal weapons, nuclear unmanned subs, combat lasers, and a nuclear-powered cruise missile.