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The new foreign policy and defense strategy is known as “the pivot to Asia” and was the focus of US President Barack Obama’s visit to Thailand, Myanmar and Cambodia in late November 2012.
The White House is trying to consolidate its trade and defense ties with countries in an area of the world that is increasingly coming under Chinese influence.
According to the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), a trade group that includes US defense corporations like Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co and Northrop Grumman Corp, growing Chinese defense budgets have set off new US sales in South and East Asia – sales that will also guarantee major deliveries.
“In the longer term, the US national security strategic “pivot” to the Pacific will almost certainly require increases in air and naval power – all of which are integrated and supported by space assets,” an AIA report released in December 2012 says.
“Long distances and the prospect of contested air space in the Pacific theater will require airpower – fighters; tankers; transports; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms; and long-range penetration capability with UAS, bombers, missiles and rockets.”
The AIA report goes on to warn that the Asian pivot will ring hollow if it is not supported by adequate air power.
According to DefenceTalk.com, an online news portal dedicated to military and defence issues, the White House is increasingly turning its attention to China, which it says is heading to becoming an economic superpower.
The website claims that increased US arms sales and technology investments in Asia could stabilise the region by creating a military balance between China and its neighbours.
Earlier this week, the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, in response to a Reuters request, revealed that arms sales agreements to US allies in Asia “rose to $13.7 billion in fiscal 2012, up 5.4 per cent from a year before”.
The figures in 2012 continue the trend from the year before when US weapons sales more than tripled in 2011, reaching a record high, according to congressional figures.
Contracts with Saudi Arabia accounted for $33 billion worth of weapons from the US in 2011; India came second with $9 billion in arms purchases.