Fdd's overnight brief

May 29, 2024

FDD Research & Analysis

In The News

Israel

Israeli tanks advanced farther into Rafah on Tuesday, according to witnesses, as the Israeli military said it was expanding operations in the southern Gaza city amid growing international condemnation. – Wall Street Journal

The U.S. military said it has suspended use of its temporary pier off the coast of Gaza because it was damaged during severe storms, the latest setback in the U.S. effort to deliver humanitarian aid by sea to the enclave.  – Wall Street Journal

A career State Department official involved in the Biden administration’s contentious debates over Israel’s conduct in Gaza resigned this week, citing disagreements with a recently published U.S. government report. – Washington Post

U.S. officials said on Tuesday that the Israeli strike that killed dozens of Palestinians in southern Gaza was a tragedy but that it did not violate President Biden’s red line for withholding weapons shipments to Israel. – New York Times

Israel’s military denied striking a tent camp west of Rafah on Tuesday after Gaza health authorities said Israeli tank shelling had killed at least 21 people there, in an area Israel has designated a civilian evacuation zone. – Reuters

The Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group released on Tuesday a video that appeared to show Israeli hostage Alexander Trufanov, 28, who was kidnapped by militants on Oct. 7. – Reuters

A World Health Organization official said on Tuesday the last hospital in Rafah could stop functioning and a substantial number of deaths could be expected if Israel launches a “full incursion” into the southern Gaza city. – Reuters

An Egyptian security delegation is trying in coordination with Qatar and the U.S. to reactivate talks to reach a truce in Gaza and release hostages, Egypt’s state-affiliated Al-Qahera News TV channel said on Tuesday, citing a senior official. – Reuters

After the International Criminal Court’s top prosecutor sought arrest warrants for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his defense minister and top Hamas officials, the Israeli leader accused him of being one of “the great antisemites in modern times.” – Associated Press

The Israel Defense Forces said Tuesday that a hidden store of weapons may have been the actual cause of a deadly blaze in southern Gaza’s Rafah, and that an airstrike that targeted an adjacent area had used small munitions that would not ignite such a fire on their own – Times of Israel

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told IDF soldiers in the north Tuesday that Israel was committed to returning tens of thousands of displaced residents of communities near the Lebanon border safely to their homes. – Times of Israel

Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi has appointed an “advisory committee” to examine the conditions of Palestinian prisoners detained amid the war in the Gaza Strip, following allegations of torture and mistreatment, the military said Tuesday. – Times of Israel

Mexico invoked Article 63 of the International Court of Justice statute and filed a declaration of intervention in the case concerning the application of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide in the Gaza Strip, according to the ICJ’s official X account on Tuesday. – Jerusalem Post

Israel sought to block a United Nations Security Council resolution against its military operation to eliminate Hamas in Rafah, as the international community continued to express its outrage over a Sunday night IDF strike in which 45 Palestinians were killed – Jerusalem Post

The IDF Aerial Defense Array on Wednesday morning intercepted a suspicious aerial target off the coast of Rosh Hanikra, the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit said. No alerts were activated according to protocol. – Arutz Sheva

Israel is continuing to issue work permits to Palestinian Arabs from Palestinian Authority-assigned areas of Judea and Samaria despite its commitment to stop issuing permits after Hamas’ October 7 attack. – Arutz Sheva

Editorial: There are two monetary sources available for reservists: Army salaries that are legally provided for them by the IDF, and compensation that they might qualify for as business owners. Neither are comprehensive enough, whereas in some cases, these only apply if one makes under a certain amount. This created a reality for some business owners in which they would get released from reserve duty for 48 hours, then spend every precious second of their time to their businesses, alongside everything else they had to do. – Jerusalem Post

Attorney David Berliner writes: But another implication relates to the judicial reform struggle in Israel. One of the main justifications for the judicial activism of Israel’s Supreme Court, particularly regarding the IDF’s actions, was that it protected senior Israeli officials from facing trial at the ICC. But now, it’s becoming clear that this claim was exaggerated, to say the least. – Jerusalem Post

Seth Mandel writes: Put simply, often when terrorists are jailed for heinous crimes, neither they nor the public believe they’ll serve their full time. And the process that leads to their early release may put additional lives in danger. Israel is highly unlikely to reintroduce the death penalty but, like any state, it relies on public legitimacy to curtail vigilantism and provide stability in governance. Najjar’s taunting of his victims’ families at his sentencing is also a reminder that Israelis aren’t the only ones who have noticed the pattern. – Commentary

Iran

The number of executions recorded globally in 2023 was the highest for eight years, as some Middle Eastern states sharply increased their use of the death penalty, Amnesty International says. Iran alone carried out 74% of those executions, stepping up its use of the death penalty for drug offences, while Saudi Arabia accounted for 15%. – BBC 

Editorial: Iran’s regime is richer than it was when Mr. Biden took office and stopped enforcing sanctions; more aggressive than it was as Mr. Biden has failed to respond to its terrorism; and much closer to having a nuclear weapon. It’s hard to imagine a more complete policy failure. – Wall Street Journal

Mordechai Kedar writes: Today, with Raisi dead and Vardanyan out of the political arena (currently held in an Azerbaijani prison), it seems that the relations between Armenia and Azerbaijan could improve if there is a regime change in Iran. This is unlikely, however, as Raisi’s death did not bring any change to the Iranian system. Nevertheless, Raisi’s death is a big setback for the Iranian regime and it will take them time to regroup under a new leadership before they can continue their nefarious activities. – Jerusalem Post

Ali M. Ansari writes: The increasingly inescapable lesson of the Islamic Republic’s relations with Israel and with the wider Jewish community is that there is too much politics in the history and not enough history in the politics. Until that imbalance can be addressed, the opportunities for meaningful progress are slight. – Foreign Affairs 

Russia & Ukraine

Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken plans to spend this week showing U.S. support for nations facing a hostile Russia in visits to Moldova and the Czech Republic, where he is scheduled to attend a meeting of NATO foreign ministers that will discuss how to bolster Ukraine. – New York Times

Western nations are stepping up their calls to allow attacks on Russian territory using weapons that they have sent the Ukrainian military — an issue that is taking on greater urgency as Russia builds up troops on the border in preparation for a possible offensive. – New York Times

Russian President Vladimir Putin warned the West on Tuesday that NATO members in Europe were playing with fire by proposing to let Ukraine use Western weapons to strike deep inside Russia, which he said could trigger a global conflict. – Reuters

Russian guided bombs killed two civilians in the eastern Ukrainian city of Toretsk on Tuesday and heavily damaged two apartment buildings, Donetsk regional Governor Vadym Filashkin said. – Reuters

Ukraine will receive its first supplies of F-16 fighter jets “very soon”, but around half of its desperately needed foreign military aid is arriving late, Kyiv’s defence minister has said. – Reuters

 Ukrainian military shot down 13 drones out of 14 launched by Russia in an overnight attack on three regions, the country’s air force said on the Telegram messaging app on Wednesday. – Reuters

Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday Ukraine should hold a presidential election following the expiry of President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s five-year term. – Reuters

Russia is not currently planning to restart the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant in Ukraine, the head of Russia’s state-owned nuclear power company Rosatom was quoted as saying on Tuesday. – Reuters

David Ignatius writes: We might be nearing another inflection point in Ukraine. As China leans harder into its partnership with a newly dominant Russia, Biden is weighing whether to deepen his alliance with Kyiv. This would bring new risks, but it would make sense if it could bolster a wobbly Ukraine and rebalance the negotiating table, which is where this war must eventually be settled. – Washington Post

Alexander K. Motyl writes: It’s no surprise therefore that, “The primary mission of ACURA is to promote diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation with Russia.” Forget peace, justice, human rights and all that silly stuff. Forget Ukraine, which is in the throes of war; forget Belarus, which has been transformed into a Russian vassal […] ACURA’s board of directors includes a variety of intelligent and accomplished people. They’re anything but “useful idiots.” They know exactly what they’re doing: giving succor to the murderous Putin regime. – The Hill

Keith L. Carter, Jennifer Spindel, and Matthew McClary write: Ukraine’s international partners must also help wear down Russia by enforcing economic sanctions and communicating clearly that these measures would be lifted if Russia were to retreat. Most important, Kyiv must have support after the eventual end of the fighting. Waging a war of exhaustion will decimate Ukraine, and its people need to know that they will not be left on their own to rebuild. Ukraine’s partners owe the country that assurance for its sacrifice. – Foreign Affairs

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia’s King Salman chaired a cabinet meeting on Tuesday, state media said, the first time the monarch was reported to have carried out official duties since receiving medical treatment more than a week ago. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, may cut prices for most crude grades it sells to Asia in July, the first cut in five months, as Middle East benchmarks and margins for Asian refiners have weakened, refining sources said. – Reuters

Saudi Arabia’s school curriculum has shown positive improvements in tolerance and inclusivity and significant moderation of anti-Israel material, a new study by The Institute for Monitoring Peace and Cultural Tolerance in School Education (IMPACT-se) revealed Tuesday.  – Jerusalem Post

Middle East & North Africa

Egypt and the United Arab Emirates are still negotiating contracts for the massive Ras El Hekma development project on Egypt’s Mediterranean coast, a prominent representative of the Egyptian tourism sector said. – Reuters

The Syrian government and international aid donors must both do more if they want millions of Syrians forced to flee the country by war to return home, the U.N.’s refugee chief has said. – Reuters

Algeria on Tuesday proposed a draft U.N. Security Council resolution that demands a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, the release of all hostages held by Hamas and essentially orders Israel to “immediately halt its military offensive” in Rafah. – Reuters

Iraq’s oil ministry on Tuesday called for meeting “as soon as possible” with the Kurdistan region’s ministry of natural resources and international companies operating there to reach a deal on resuming oil exports via a pipeline to the Turkish port of Ceyhan. – Reuters

Yemen-based Houthi militants launched five anti-ship ballistic missiles in the Red Sea on 28 May, with three striking the Greek-owned and operated bulk carrier Laax, said US Central Command (Centcom). – Argus

Korean Peninsula

North Korea’s rare swipe at China this week underscored how Beijing and Pyongyang do not entirely see eye-to-eye on the latter’s illicit nuclear weapons arsenal, despite warming ties in other areas, analysts and officials in South Korea said. – Reuters

South Korea accused North Korea on Wednesday of sending a large number of balloons across the heavily fortified border between the countries to drop objects that included trash and excrement, calling the act base and dangerous. – Reuters

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said space reconnaissance capabilities are crucial for national self defence against enemy threats and the country will never give up the fight to own that ability, state media said on Wednesday. – Reuters

South Korea and the United Arab Emirates signed a trade pact on Wednesday to sharply cut import duties at a summit of their leaders that pledged closer business and investment ties. – Reuters

China

Chinese firms trying to buffer themselves from Washington’s anti-China policies are rebranding and creating U.S.-domiciled businesses to sell their wares as the Biden administration expands the government entity lists that restrict Chinese companies’ business dealings in the U.S., say policymakers and national-security experts. – Wall Street Journal

Hong Kong’s High Court is set hand down a verdict this week against 16 democrats in a landmark subversion trial that critics say could have major repercussions for the city’s opposition democratic movement and the global financial hub’s reputation. – Reuters

Hong Kong national security police arrested six people across the city on Tuesday under a new security law for alleged seditious intent, including a pro-democracy barrister already behind bars. – Reuters

A majority of Europe’s chief executives believe relations between Europe and China will worsen over the next three years, with the EU’s de-risking strategy and Beijing’s close ties with Moscow cited as the greatest areas of friction – Reuters

Estonia’s state prosecutor said China has not responded to a six-month-old request for help with an investigation into a Chinese ship which Estonia suspects cut two of its subsea telecoms cables. – Reuters

Joseph Bosco writes: Biden’s record of broken “red lines” as chief foreign policy architect for the Obama administration and as president require nothing less than strategic clarity on defending Taiwan. He must make clear that, directly contrary to China’s threat that “independence means war,” an unprovoked Chinese attack or blockade against Taiwan would bring America’s full diplomatic recognition of Taiwan — that is, “war means independence.” – The Hill

André Brunel writes: The People’s Liberation Army recently surrounded Taiwan’s main island, as well as smaller islands like Matsu and Kinmen, as “punishment” because of Taiwan’s recent inauguration of its democratically elected president, Lai Ching-te. According to Taiwanese military experts, these PLA military drills simulated for the first time a full-scale attack rather than an economic blockade. There is no time to waste. – C4ISRNET

South Asia

India’s Reliance Industries , operator of the world’s biggest refining complex, has signed a one-year deal with Russia’s Rosneft to buy at least 3 million barrels of oil a month in roubles, four sources aware of the matter told Reuters. – Reuters

Pakistan’s former premier Nawaz Sharif was reelected president of the ruling Pakistan Muslim League-N party on Tuesday. He last held the position in 2017, when he was forced out of office amid corruption allegations. – Associated Press

Andy Mukherjee writes:  In wanting politics and policies to remain steady, neither India Inc. nor investors seem to realize the risk to financial and societal stability when ordinary families can afford very little of anything. Whoever forms the next government in New Delhi must first repair the household balance sheet. – Bloomberg

Sushant Singh writes: Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians are India’s biggest religious minorities; they make up nearly one-fifth of the country’s population. To disempower these groups would spell the end of the historical bond between India and ideas of universal justice, human rights, and democracy. A majoritarian Indian state—a Hindu Rashtra—would instead make a covenant with bigotry, discrimination, and violence.  – Foreign Policy

Asia

U.S. lawmakers from both parties traveled to Taiwan this week to show support for the island democracy, the first such delegations since the inauguration of a new Taiwanese president and the large-scale Chinese military exercises that followed his swearing in last week. – Wall Street Journal

Opposition lawmakers in Taiwan pushed through measures on Tuesday that could challenge the powers of the new president, Lai Ching-te, defying tens of thousands of his supporters who poured into the streets in recent days in protest – New York Times

China’s military drills last week were more about propaganda and intimidation than starting a war, but Chinese forces did show how they could react quickly, Taiwan’s top security official said on Wednesday. – Reuters

Thailand’s attorney-general will indict former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra for allegedly insulting the monarchy, an official said on Wednesday, in a setback to a political heavyweight whose loyalists are currently in government. – Reuters

France has decided to lift the ban it had imposed on TikTok on its overseas territory of New Caledonia, said a regional authority for the area on Wednesday, as it aims to restore calm to the riot-hit Pacific Ocean island. – Reuters

Taiwan’s cabinet will reject and send back for review legislation the opposition passed on Tuesday on parliamentary reforms that have brought tens of thousands onto the streets to protest amid accusations of Chinese interference. – Reuters

Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr said on Wednesday new rules outlined by China’s coast guard that could result in the detention of foreigners in the South China Sea were an escalation and “worrisome”. – Reuters

Alvin Camba writes: There is precedent for a pendulum swing between pro- and anti-China leaders. The pro-China Duterte succeeded Benigno Aquino III, who took China’s coercive maritime activities to court at the Hague Permanent Court of Arbitration. Spiraling economic inequality during Benigno’s term fueled Rodrigo’s victory. Heeding this history, the United States must shift the focus from military toward alleviating bread-and-butter issues. In so doing it will prevent the return of another pro-China Duterte administration in 2028. – Foreign Policy

Brandon J. Weichert writes: Of course, the blockade of Taiwan will not be the end of problems. Beijing’s ultimate goal will be to invade, but only after they’ve weakened the country and made the population so desperate that it will essentially welcome any reprieve from the brutal blockade. Such a strategy, while still risky, would be the one to watch out for. It brings to the forefront all of China’s hybrid warfare techniques. The West may be in for a protracted crisis – one that stymies its ability to respond with overwhelming force, and methodically pursues a Chinese victory. – National Interest

Paul J. Saunders writes: A deepening alignment among China, Russia, Iran, and North Korea is drawing considerable attention as the United States and its allies confront new challenges from these four nations, both individually and in various assortments. Yet in addition to the policy problems this cooperation poses, Washington faces another difficulty: what to call them? – National Interest

Europe

The Netherlands finally has a prime minister — and it is not Geert Wilders, the hard-right firebrand who won a surprise victory in the last Dutch election. – Washington Post

Sweden became the Western military alliance’s 32nd member in March. The abrupt end to the Scandinavian country’s 200 years of neutrality following Russia’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine, and officials’ warnings about the Russian threat to Sweden itself, worry many. Teenagers are no exception. – Associated Press

France’s lower house of parliament on Tuesday suspended a deputy from the hard-left Les Insoumis (LFI) party for 15 days for waving a Palestinian flag in the National Assembly, bringing proceedings to a halt for about an hour. – Reuters

European Union defence ministers on Tuesday debated the idea of training Ukrainian forces inside the country but did not reach a common position on the sensitive issue, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said. – Reuters

When Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni took power in 2022, far-right parties across Europe hailed her victory, expecting the fiery new leader in Rome to pursue a nationalist agenda and battle the Brussels bureaucracy. – Reuters

The University of Copenhagen said on Tuesday it would halt investment in companies that do business in the occupied West Bank amid student protests pressuring the campus to cut financial and institutional ties with Israel. – Reuters

As support for far right parties pushing anti-immigrant agendas, some with staunchly Euroskeptic perspectives, surges across Europe, so does support from young voters. – Politico

Dominic Green writes: A rarity among British politicians, Mr. Sunak once had a real job. He even understands finance […] his hands are tied by his party’s politicians, and he isn’t temperamentally inclined to dirty them by fighting too hard. British Conservatives are now the principal obstacle to the revival of British conservatism. Defeat could force the party through its crisis, though there will be much less to conserve after five years of Labour. – Wall Street Journal

Adrian Woodridge writes: Election campaigns being what they are, we can expect nothing but ridicule from the Labour Party on Sunak’s grand idea. But for how much longer? David Lammy, Starmer’s shadow foreign secretary and one of the party’s biggest beasts, has vigorously advocated “a form of compulsory national service,” though of an exclusively civil variety. Even if Sunak is not around to implement his big idea, I have no doubt that it will eventually become self-evident. – Bloomberg

Lionel Laurent writes: Even now, when centrists like Macron are on the back foot, it still seems likely that the cracks on the right will continue to show: The AfD is too toxic for Le Pen, but Le Pen currently looks too toxic for Meloni. And it’s the Italian premier who is in the more enviable position as troublemaker-turned-kingmaker — she has a seat at the leaders’ table and if she’s politically agile enough has a shot both at influencing the mainstream right and peeling off smaller rivals. To invite Le Pen into her tent would risk others leaving it. – Bloomberg

Africa

South Africans vote on Wednesday, and the ruling party, the African National Congress, is struggling to hold onto its parliamentary majority after three decades in power. – Washington Post

Democratic Republic of Congo has appointed a new government, spokesperson Tina Salama said in the early hours of Wednesday, ending an impasse that has mired the country in political uncertainty for months. – Reuters

Germany will keep its military air transport hub in Niger’s capital Niamey open for now, the defence ministry in Berlin said late on Tuesday, shortly after the European Union announced it would end its military mission in the country by June 30. – Reuters

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken discussed the need to urgently end the war in Sudan with Sudanese army chief General Abdel Fattah al-Burhan in a phone call on Tuesday, the State Department said. – Reuters

Togo’s President Faure Gnassingbe is set to become president of the council of ministers, a position introduced by the new constitution, which will allow him to extend his 19-year-old rule, a minister said late on Monday. – Reuters

Egypt will host a conference next month bringing together Sudan’s civilian political groups with other regional and global parties, the Egyptian foreign ministry said on Tuesday. – Reuters

Ukrainian intelligence claims that Russia continues to recruit mercenaries in African countries including Rwanda, Burundi, Uganda and Congo. According to Ukrainian intelligence, each mercenary is guaranteed a salary of $2,200 a month (about NIS 8,000) and they are used on the battlefield in Ukraine as cannon fodder. – Arutz Sheva

Ebrahim Fakir writes: A potential coalition between the ANC and the DA, though fraught with challenges, offers a path toward stability. By leveraging their respective strengths, especially the distinct social classes and racial groups that they represent, these parties can potentially foster accountability and responsiveness, which are essential elements for effective governance. Such an arrangement, while not devoid of risks, presents an opportunity for meaningful political reform. – Foreign Policy

The Americas

The Biden administration amended and clarified a number of existing sanctions against Cuba on Tuesday to allow private entrepreneurs and businesses on the island to open U.S. bank accounts and access online banking as part of its effort “increase support for the Cuban people” while avoiding any assistance to the government. – Washington Post

Venezuela has revoked its invitation to the European Union to send election observers for a presidential contest in July, Elvis Amoroso, the head of the National Electoral Council (CNE), said on Tuesday. – Reuters 

Haiti’s transition council on Tuesday tapped former Prime Minister Garry Conille, who briefly led the country over a decade ago, to return to the role as the Caribbean nation works to restore stability and take back control from violent gangs. – Reuters

In early May, Claudia Sheinbaum, the favorite to win Mexico’s upcoming presidential election next month, suddenly pulled out of a planned visit to Apatzingan, a town in the violent state of Michoacan. – Reuters

United States

The U.S. Treasury on Tuesday sanctioned three Chinese individuals and three Thai companies for involvement in a cybercrime network that it said made bomb threats and fraudulent applications for COVID-related aid, costing the government billions of dollars – Reuters

The United States and its partners are prepared to use sanctions and export controls to prevent China-Russia trade that threatens their security amid the ongoing Ukraine war, a White House official said on Tuesday. – Reuters

The Justice Department has agreed to settle long-running litigation stemming from a decision in 2017 to release to the media text messages between two former FBI employees involved in the probe of alleged ties between Russia and Donald Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign. – Politico

A group of Palestinian Americans is suing a government official in Florida over his decision to invest more than $700 million of county funds in Israel bonds — money that helps finance Israel’s military efforts as it battles the Hamas terrorist group in Gaza. – Times of Israel

The White House on Tuesday came out against legislation being pushed by House Republicans to sanction senior members of the International Criminal Court over its pursuit of arrest warrants against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Yoav Gallant. – Times of Israel 

University of Texas economics major Jason Diebner initially considered his chosen school merely a top institution of higher learning. After October 7 and the explosion of anti-Israel and antisemitic agitation it triggered on his campus, Diebner began to view the university differently. – Times of Israel

Arthur Herman writes: To quote Richard Nixon once more, “An unparalleled opportunity has been placed in America’s hands. Never has there been a time when hope was more justified—or when complacency was more dangerous.” It would be wrong to think that a New Pax Americana will rest on the foundations of the old. But it would also be wrong to waste an opportunity to “think anew and act anew” (to quote another American president) before events overwhelm the possibility of reform and change. – National Interest

Cybersecurity

A U.S. appeals court on Tuesday set a fast-track schedule to consider the legal challenges to a new law requiring China-based ByteDance to divest TikTok’s U.S. assets by Jan. 19 or face a ban. – Reuters

The Biden administration is urging big technology companies to ramp up efforts to curb antisemitic content on social media and gaming platforms, which has surged in recent years. – Bloomberg

A little-known hacker group claimed responsibility for an attack that has disrupted service for days at CDEK, one of Russia’s largest delivery companies. The Russian-speaking hackers, who call themselves Head Mare, said they encrypted the company’s servers with ransomware and destroyed backup copies of its corporate systems. – The Record

The criminal group calling itself RansomHub claimed on Monday to have been behind a cyberattack targeting the British auction house Christie’s. A listing on RansomHub’s darknet extortion site includes what the criminals say are samples of data stolen from Christie’s, the world’s largest auction house by revenue whose clients include some of the world’s wealthiest art collectors. – The Record 

Bruce Schneier writes: Whether or not to trust an AI is less about the AI and more about the application. Some of these AI applications are individual. Some of these applications are societal. Whether something like “fairness” matters depends on this. And there are many competing definitions of fairness that depend on the details of the system and the application. It’s the same with transparency. The need for it depends on the application and the incentives. Democratic applications are likely to require more transparency than corporate ones and probably AI models that are not owned and run by global tech monopolies. – CyberScoop

Defense

The Air Force awarded Boeing a contract worth nearly $7.5 billion to build more kits to convert bombs into guided weapons known as Joint Direct Attack Munitions. – DefenseNews

The Defense Innovation Unit selected The Spaceport Company to demonstrate the ability to use a sea-based launch platform to quickly send cargo or satellites to orbit. The company, headquartered in Woodbridge, Virginia, builds floating launch pads that could allow commercial companies or the Defense Department to fly payloads offshore. – DefenseNews

The U.S. Army approved the characteristics it wants in a Future Tactical Unmanned Aircraft System after awarding contracts to two teams competing to build the drone. – C4ISRNET

James Stavridis writes: War is unpredictable, but one thing is certain: To win — or even better, to deter China before the shooting starts — the US needs a robust submarine force and the shipyards to keep it in the fight. I’m an old destroyer admiral, so my heart wants me to think we can handle Beijing’s fleet with our surface ships. But my head tells me that more and better-maintained submarines will be the linchpin of a maritime war with China. – Bloomberg