Since the end of the Cold War, the total number of US Air Force squadrons has dwindled disturbingly, according to the study, and less than a half of the existing 54 are combat ready.
Some of the vehicles, including the B-52 long-range bomber, the A-10 Warthog and F-15 Eagle fighter jet, are more than 20 years old. US fourth generation fighter planes are becoming easier targets for modern air defense systems, the report says.
“These older planes are already vulnerable when operating against advanced adversary aircraft and air defense systems such as the Chinese J-20 stealth fighter and the Russian S-400 surface-to-air missile system,” the report reads.
To make matters worse in the eyes of the study's authors, the number of US Navy ships has shrunk during the same period from 566 to 271, which is hardly enough to maintain a US presence in the Pacific, Persian Gulf and Mediterranean.
As for the ground forces, they have also reduced their presence across the world due to budget cuts. US military forces based overseas have seen a 200,000 decline since the Cold War.
“American military capabilities have declined independently and relatively to adversaries like China, Russia, and Iran,” the report says.
The analysts express their concerns that if the US continues to cut its defense budget, it won't be able to win back its military leadership.
Not everyone agrees with the conservative DC-based think tanks regarding American military spending. Business Insider pointed out in an August 29 article that the declared military and defense budget of the US in 2015 totaled $601 billion, more than the next 7 highest-spending countries combined.
However, many question whether this money is being spent efficiently. The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, despite technical problems and due to cost overruns, will be the most expensive plane in history. According to defense columnist Patrick Tucker, "if you factor in the full cost of maintaining a fleet of aircraft for 56 years, the price of an individual [F-35] fighter is more than $670 million….more than its weight in gold."