Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall told U.S. lawmakers this week that China’s rapid build up of nuclear weapons was the most “disturbing” thing that he’s ever seen in his 50-year career in the defense industry.
Kendall made the remarks while testifying to the House Defense Appropriations Committee hearing on Tuesday over the rising threats that the U.S. is facing from communist China.
“I don’t think I’ve seen anything more disturbing in my career than the Chinese ongoing expansion of their nuclear force,” said Kendall. “For decades, they were quite comfortable with an arsenal of a few hundred nuclear weapons, which was fairly clearly a second-strike capability to act as a deterrent.”
“That expansion that they’re undertaking puts us into a new world that we’ve never lived in before, where you have three powers — three great powers, essentially — with large arsenals of nuclear weapons,” Kendall said in reference to the U.S., Russia, and China having large nuclear arsenals.”
China has rapidly increased the size and sophistication of their military in recent years, including developing the most advanced hypersonic missiles in the world and building scores of nuclear missile silos deep inside the country.
Kendall said that the primary threat that the Air Force and Space Force are worried about is “China, China, China.”
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Kendall said that the U.S. must develop and deploy new cutting-edge weapons systems to “maintain the air and space superiority that America and our allies have counted on for decade.”
“In order to proceed with any of these programs, the Department of the Air Force needs timely authorizations and appropriations,” he said. “War [with China] is not inevitable. But successfully deterring conflict is heavily dependent on our military capabilities.”
“Russia’s latest move on the New START treaty is not helping — it’s going in the wrong direction,” Kendall said. “Nobody wants a nuclear war. We do not want to go back to that [Cold War] world of 30 years ago. I thought we would never be in this position again, and here we are. So, we need to be wise. We really need to start talking to them.”
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