With the 2023 budget, the American armies reveal their transformation strategy in the face of China

It is common to read to what extent the Russian armies engaged in Ukraine rely on equipment inherited from the Soviet period. It is true that although modernized, the T-72B3, T80BV, BMP-2 and other Msta-S were all designed in the 70s and 80s, as is the case with the combat aircraft of the Flanker series or the Mil and Kamov helicopters. However, it is clear that in the West, the situation is largely identical, including with regard to the tip of the sword, namely the US Army, which continues to rely on Abrams tanks, the Bradley IFVs, the Paladin self-propelled guns, the Black Hawk and Apache helicopters and the Patriot anti-aircraft systems, the 5 pillars of the Big 5 super program of the early 70s. The situation is also similar for the US Navy and its Burke destroyers, Nimitz aircraft carriers and Super Hornets, and for the US Air Force, whose combat force still relies mostly on F-15s, F-16s and even A-10s backed by E3 Sentry and KC-135.

Even if all this equipment has been extensively modernized several times, to the point that its performance no longer has much to do with the initial equipment, it is clear that a majority of the programs intended precisely to replace this equipment have encountered innumerable difficulties, and was finally canceled or gave rise to limited series. From the RH-66 tactical helicopter to the Zumwalt heavy destroyers, from the F-22 to the successive failures to replace the Bradley, from the LCS to the Sea Wolf, many programs that consumed considerable resources were aborted or did not make it possible to effectively replace previous generation equipment forced to play extra time. Above all, beyond these programmatic failures, the American armies have been struggling for many years to engage in a real transformation allowing them to get out of the doctrines inherited from the 70s and confirmed by the 2 Gulf wars, to face which will undoubtedly prove to be its biggest competitor in the years to come, namely China.

The 3 Zumwalt-class destroyers will have cost $21 billion, the equivalent of 8 Arleigh Burke Flight III destroyers, without bringing any significant operational added value

Because where the US programming is marked, for three decades, by announcements as spectacular as are the cancellations of programs which followed, Beijing, for its part, followed a strategy of rise in power of an extreme precision. If until the middle of the 2010s, this Chinese capacity to transform its armies and its defense industry to have a leading military power perfectly anchored in the 21st century, was recognized only by specialists in the subject, the thing has quickly become perfectly visible in recent years, as the Chinese military industry became capable of producing more combat ships and as many planes as the United States and its allies in the Pacific zone, and of having personnel trained to support these new devices. And if even today, the People's Liberation Army is equipped with materials comparable to those in service within Western armies, the arrival of new generation weapon systems, whether in terms of armored vehicles, fighter jets, drones, ships and submarines, will rapidly increase Beijing's relative power in this theater and beyond.


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