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Defense Secretary Ashton Carter on Wednesday warned Russia and China are quickly closing the military technology gap with the U.S. as inconsistent military budgets and slower innovation threaten America’s lead in the military world.

“Our technology remains the best. At the same time, we can’t ignore the overall trend: High-end military technologies long possessed by only the most advanced foes are finding their way into the hands of both non-state and previously much less-capable militaries, ” Mr. Carter said in a speech at the Air Force Association’s annual conference outside of Washington, Defense News reported.

“It’s evident that nations like Russia and China have been pursuing military modernization programs to close the technology gap with the United States, ” he continued. “They’re developing platforms designed to thwart our traditional advantages of power projection and freedom of movement. They’re developing and fielding new and advanced aircraft and ballistic, cruise, anti-ship and anti-air missiles that are longer-range and more accurate.”

Mr. Carter said the Pentagon is taking “prudent steps” to deal with China and affirmed that the U.S. will “fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, ” regardless of China’s claims over newly created islands to expand its territory in the region, Defense News reported.

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