NATO nations in 2016 increased their overall defense spending, but it is still below the overall goal of two percent of gross domestic product and more must be done soon, according to a report from the organization released Monday. In 2016, 23 allies increased their spending by 3.8 percent, bringing NATO’s total average to 2.43 percent of gross domestic product, but some countries still haven’t reached the two percent goal outlined in 2014, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Monday. By comparison, the US spends 3.61 percent of its GDP on defense. “There has been progress,” Stoltenberg said. “But the job is far from done. We still do not have fair burden-sharing within our alliance.” The US has long been critical of NATO allies who are not reaching their spending goals, but President Trump and Defense Secretary James Mattis have recently strengthened the rhetoric. Mattis, in comments to NATO last month, said the US may “moderate” its commitment if spending is not increased. “This is not just about a call from the United States and President Trump … It is in Europe’s best interest to spend more on defense,” Stoltenberg said. “We have a long way to go but at least after years of decline, we are now starting to see an increase.”
New F-35s are coming off the production line with the TR-3 upgrade and going right into storage because testing is incomplete. Next lot negotiations are continuing, but talks over a performance-based logistics contract have stalled.