US will counter China's military build-up: Gates

Posted By: Manoj Kumar Ramesh
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Washington, Jan 9 (ANI): US Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who is scheduled to reach Beijing on Sunday evening for a three-day visit to China, has said the Pentagon is stepping up investments on a range of weapons, jet fighters and technology in response to the Chinese military build-up.

The New York Times quoted Gates as saying that the Chinese development of its first radar-evading fighter jet, and an antiship ballistic missile that could hit American aircraft carriers, is a reason behind persuading him to make improvements in American weaponry 'a priority'.

"They clearly have potential to put some of our capabilities at risk, and we have to pay attention to them, we have to respond appropriately with our own programs," he added.

Talking about China's claim of its development of a new stealth fighter jet, the J-20, Gates said that even though it was a matter for concern, there "is some question about just how stealthy" it is.

The American weapons that Gates was referring to included investments in a new long-range nuclear-capable bomber aircraft, which the Pentagon had stopped developing in 2009, and also a new generation of electronic jammers for the Navy that are designed to thwart a missile from finding and hitting a target.

At a Pentagon briefing on Thursday, Gates said that the jammers would improve the Navy's ability to "fight and survive" in waters where it is challenged. He was also referring to continued investment in the Joint Strike Fighter, the Pentagon's newest radar-evading fighter jet.

However, he has been reportedly worried about the Chinese buildup in his four years as defense secretary.

"We've been watching these developments all along. I've been concerned about the development of the antiship cruise and ballistic missiles ever since I took this job. We knew they were working on a stealth aircraft. I think that what we've seen is that they may be somewhat further ahead in the development of that aircraft than our intelligence had earlier predicted," Gates said.

Earlier this week, Chinese military websites and newspapers had published a prototype of a stealth aircraft developed by the country, which the Pentagon had downplayed saying that China is still years away from deploying a stealth aircraft. (ANI)

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