For F-35 Fighter Jets, US Competes With China For Rare Earth Metals

For F-35 Fighter Jets, US Competes With China For Rare Earth Metals
F-35 Fighter Jets

International Military - US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin will meet face-to-face with Chinese Defense Minister Wei Fenghe for the first time on his Asia tour next week. The Chinese government officially contacted the Pentagon on Friday to arrange for the meeting.

The focus is on "managing the competition", according to a US official familiar with the planning. One aspect of the heated competition between China and the US is the struggle for rare earth elements.

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These rare earth metals composed of 17 metals constitute almost all electronics, including the US military's most important weapons such as the F-35 stealth fighter jet, M1Abrams tank, surface-to-air missiles, handheld radios, and everything in between.

China currently controls nearly 90% of the world's supply of rare earths, a supply chain so critical to US national security that the Department of Defense or the Pentagon submitted its own legislative proposal to the House Armed Services Committee requesting $253.5 million to secure a larger stock of rare earths.

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If these mineral or metal supply chains fail, planes will stop flying, tanks will grind to a halt and the US military may have trouble communicating. In a bipartisan solution, Senators Mark Kelly and Tom Cotton of the Senate Armed Services Committee have come together to sponsor the REESHORE Act.

This law will help create a larger stockpile for the US military along with creating more incentives to mine this mineral in the US.

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Senator Kelly, a former astronaut, explained how he saw the problem firsthand from space. "I have flown into space over China many times, orbited the planet hundreds of times.

You look down at China and you see like a lake with a very strange color. And that's because they process things like rare earth metals. It's a very dirty process," Kelly said, alluding to the pollution China is experiencing from mining its minerals.

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