China to boost defense spending by 7.6 percent


An advance copy of the budget to China’s national congress says the government will increase national defense spending by 7.6 percent in 2016, the smallest increase in six years. It reflects slowing growth in the world’s second-largest economy and a drawdown of troops as Beijing seeks to build a more streamlined, modern military.

The figure in Saturday’s report comes a day after the spokeswoman for the legislature, the National People’s Congress, said China would boost defense spending by about 7 to 8 percent.

The People’s Liberation Army is being trimmed to 2 million troops from 2.3 million but will still be the world’s largest standing military. China’s plan to spend 954 billion yuan ($146 billion) on defense spending this year is still less than one-third of what the U.S. is proposing to spend this year.

China’s Li predicts ‘difficult battle’ for growth


While warning that China faced “more and tougher problems,” including weak export demand, Li said he was confident that stable growth could be maintained.

The prime minister, who is the country’s top economic official, announced a growth target of 6.5 to 7 percent – down on last year’s aim of “about 7 percent.”

“The larger the economy grows, the greater the difficulty of achieving growth,” Li told delegates at the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s nominal parliament.

Li’s speech at the Great Hall of the People, lasting nearly two hours, was punctuated by polite choreographed applause. The assembly of almost 3,000 delegates routinely endorses ruling Communist party plans in near unanimous votes.

“China will face more and tougher problems and challenges in its development this year, so we must be fully prepared to fight a difficult battle,” said Li in his budget report, adding that the government would increase projected spending to allow a fiscal deficit of 3 percent.

Israel to launch one of the most advanced missile defense systems in the world, with U.S. help

A joint exercise now being conducted between thousands of Israeli forces and the U.S. European Command represents a final test before Israel begins to deploy one of the most sophisticated missile defense systems in the world.

When it is complete, Israel’s multibillion-dollar rocket and missile air defense system will be far superior to anything in the Middle East and will likely rival, and in some ways surpass, in speed and targeting, air defenses deployed by Europe and the United States, its developers say.

The United States has provided more than $3.3 billion over the past 10 years to support the defensive system, which will be able to knock down not only ballistic missiles but also orbiting satellites.

Though Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Obama have had a strained relationship, rubbed raw by their deep disagreement over the Iran nuclear deal, U.S. spending on Israel’s air defenses has soared in the last decade, from $133 million in 2006 to $619 million in 2015.

Future Army Commission prods Congress for solid funds

Members of the National Commission on the Future of the Army prodded Congress to ween off its use of emergency funds to pay for essential Army programs.

The increased use of the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account to fund readiness and modernization is creating unpredictability for the Army’s budget, Robert Hale, Future Army commissioner and former Defense Department comptroller, told the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces Feb. 10.

The remarks come as the fiscal 2017 budget, released Tuesday, provides for a minimum of $59 billion in OCO funding.

“I want to underscore the need for predictable budgets, this turmoil is just eating the time of senior leaders,” Hale said alongside the commission’s chair Carter Ham.

Carter Previews FY2017 Defense Budget Request


Addressing diverse global challenges requires new thinking, new postures in some regions and new and enhanced capabilities, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said this morning during a preview of the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2017 budget request.

Speaking at the Economic Club of Washington, D.C., Carter said the $582.7 billion defense budget to be released next week as part of the administration’s fiscal year 2017 budget request, marks a major inflection point for the department.

“In this budget we’re taking the long view,” the secretary said. “We have to. Even as we fight today’s fights, we must also be prepared for the fights that might come 10, 20 or 30 years down the road.”

Five evolving challenges drive the department’s planning, he said, including Russian aggression in Europe, the rise of China in the Asia Pacific, North Korea, Iran, and the ongoing fight against terrorism, especially the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.

Pentagon chief unveils plans to buy more high-end ships, fighters

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San Diego: Defence Secretary Ash Carter on Wednesday said the US. Navy would buy more high-end submarines, destroyers, fighter jets and unmanned underwater vehicles in coming years, using $8 billion saved by scaling back orders for smaller, less capable Littoral Combat Ships.

Carter said the Pentagon’s five-year budget plan also included $2.9 billion to modify Raytheon Co’s new SM-6 missiles for use as powerful anti-ship weapons and buy 625 more of the weapons, which are now used for missile defence.

In fiscal 2017, the Navy would spend $587 million to buy 125 SM-6 missiles, according to a senior defence official.

Secret testing last month had proven the Navy’s ability to use the new Raytheon missiles as offensive anti-ship weapons, Carter told sailors at the Navy’s massive San Diego base.

Pentagon seeks to boost defense in Europe to counter Russia

Ashton Carter

The Obama administration wants to enlarge the U.S. military presence in eastern and central Europe next year by stockpiling heavy weapons, armored vehicles and other military equipment across the region, a substantial expansion of U.S. efforts to counter a resurgent Russia.

The proposed $3.4-billion initiative will permit the Pentagon to keep the equivalent of a 4,000-soldier armored brigade in the region at all times on rotational deployments, though no troops will be formally based there, officials said.