Chinese pilots observing U.S. military planes near their airspace must be surprised at what an aged collection of aircraft the world’s sole remaining superpower is operating. The Air Force RC-135 and Navy EP-3 Aries II that have been intercepted in recent months both trace their origins to the 1950s. The B-52s used to challenge Beijing’s unilaterally-declared air defense identification zone in 2013 were at least half a century old. This is what happens when countries stop buying weapons but keep fighting wars. Arsenals become so worn out that they no longer can challenge rising military powers on their home turf. Believe it or not, the Army’s Abrams tank and Bradley fighting vehicle are expected to remain in the force for another 50-70 years. I have written a commentary for the National Interest here.
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