The headline of this article is that China’s development of a possible stealth fighter (and an anti-carrier cruise missile) has caught the US off guard. I really don’t see why: the US has not put enough emphasis on engineering education and manufacturing in some time. Instead, we have allowed manufacturing jobs to dwindle and go overseas.
Economists, many of them anyway, say this is good for the US consumer, because it results in lower prices for goods. That may be true in some regards, but it also leaves us lacking in technical prowess. This country didn’t rise to prominence based on military might, at least not solely; it rose to prominence on technical innovation. We built the best stuff, simply put. But if we let our manufacturing continue to disappear, there won’t be any people left to design the best stuff. People who don’t know how to do anything hands on don’t design products; engineering takes knowing how things work, and you really only learn that, REALLY learn that, by doing.
I am not an unabashed military technology junkie, or might is right kind of guy; I’m just a realist. The wars of the future will continue to involve more and more military technology. As drones, robots, computers and the like take center stage, the country best likely to win is the one with not just the best soldiers, but the one with the best engineers. Right now, over 85% of the world’s engineers live in Asia.
This is not an article to bash China. China has every right to develop weapons to protect their interests, just as the US does. They have every right to develop their economy as they see fit, and in the most profitable way. We need to get our heads out of the sand and get back on the work that made America great, before we are just another page in the book of fallen empires. That’s just my view from the machine shop!