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​Air Force Space Command Commander Gen. John Raymond testifying before the Strategic Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. Screenshot photo.

The Air Force bolstered its space budget by 18 percent, or $7 billion over the five-year future years defense program, in an effort to increase its capabilities and ensure the United States keeps pace with other countries in space, Air Force Space Command chief Gen. Jay Raymond said Thursday.

His remarks during a brief public session of the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee were questioned by Rep. Seth Moulton (D-Mass.), who pointed to successful Chinese test launches of several anti-satellite missiles, a development he said “fundamentally alters the strategic balance between great powers,” which has “continued to evolve in favor of China” as it has “accelerated development of space weapons.”

Moulton said public reports indicate that China could destroy a “staggering number of US satellites in the opening days of a potential conflict, thereby disabling many of the capabilities we’ve come to rely on in the United States military.”

The question, he said, is whether the administration’s investments are enough to compete with great-power adversaries “who have really stuck their flag in the sand and said this is where we will be in 2020 and 2030.”

Ray said the US has the best space capabilities in the world and the best airmen, but added that the country has competitors who are moving very quickly and the US must “pick up the pace to stay ahead of that threat.”

“I am comfortable that the $7 billion that we’ve invested across this FYDP is going to shift and then provide us the capabilities that we need to stay ahead of that threat as we continue down the path."