F-35 gets smarter; ISIS’ real origins; Boeing withdraws from China satellite deal; TSA cyber roadmap; And a bit more.

F-35 combat testing begins. The extensive tests are getting off the ground some 15 months behind schedule, thanks to “an extension in flight testing, software glitches and delays, and quality issues,” Bloomberg reports. The aircraft must pass them before the Pentagon can buy “of a planned 2,456 aircraft.

More than 320 F-35s are already operating from 15 bases worldwide as Pentagon and Lockheed continue to wrestle with resolving more than 900 deficiencies, including flaws in the plane’s complex software.” Read on, here.

Speaking of F-35 software: Defense One’s Patrick Tucker reports that a California-based AI company, C3, is developing at least two products for the F-35 program.

  1. One will help predict when a given aircraft will need maintenance, by combining and analyzing data collected by the aircraft’s existing ALIS diagnostics system and other sources;
  2. Another will try to speed up the compilation of Mission Data Files that “can take up to 18 months to compile, bringing in info on everything from enemy radar and anti-aircraft missiles to waveforms and cyber weapons.” Read that, here.

This week on the podcast: The true origins of ISIS, or the story of newly-discovered ISIS founding father (and “human garden-gnome”) Abu Ali al-Anbari.

Our guest: Hassan Hassan of the Tahrir Institute for Middle East Policy in Washington joins us on this week’s Defense One Radio to discuss his new, revised history of ISIS and al-Qaeda in Iraq — before looking ahead at America’s broader counterterrorism wars from Afghanistan to North Africa.

Subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Google Play, Stitcher, Overcast, or wherever you listen to podcasts!


From Defense One

The F-35 Is About to Get A Lot Smarter // Patrick Tucker: A California company is looking to accelerate the Defense Department’s embrace of artificial intelligence, starting with some of its most important aircraft.

The Senate is Poised to Pass the Yemen Resolution. Now What? // Katie Bo Williams: The House is almost certain not to take up the measure while Republicans are still in control. But what about next year?

Quantum Computing That Can Crack Modern Encryption More Than a Decade Away // Frank Konkel, Nextgov: A report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine suggests encryption-cracking quantum computers are possible, but won’t be built in the immediate future.

Global Business Brief // Marcus Weisgerber: Tanker Wars, Part 2; Britain’s clever aircraft carrier, Reagan Forum tidbits, and more.

TSA Unveils Cybersecurity Roadmap // Frank Konkel, Nextgov: The agency identifies four priorities and six goals to address.

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief by Ben Watson and Bradley Peniston. Thanks for reading! And if you find this stuff useful, consider sharing it with somebody you think might find it useful, too. On this day amid WW1 in 1917, the U.S. declared war on Austria-Hungary. Twenty-four years later on the same day, America was drawn into WW2 when more than 360 Japanese aircraft attacked the U.S. naval base at Pearl Harbor.


Trump nominates 5th Fleet CDR. The Navy’s new 5th Fleet commander could be Navy Vice Adm. James Malloy, currently the deputy chief of naval operations for operations, plans, and strategy at the Pentagon. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced Trump’s nomination of Malloy on Thursday — less than a week after the former 5th Fleet commander, Vice Adm. Scott Stearney, died of an apparent suicide (CBS News) at his residence in Bahrain on Saturday.
Though Congress still has to approve the nomination, Malloy is already on location in Bahrain and has been since last weekend, Navy Times reported Thursday.
About Malloy, he’s “no stranger to the 5th Fleet area of operations,” Stars and Stripes reports. “The 1986 U.S. Naval Academy graduate previously served as the Central Command ‘friendly forces’ coordinator following the 9/11 attacks. He has also served as flag aide to the 5th Fleet commander and commander of the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group, which deployed to the region.”

Say what? (SASC edition) There were a few uniformed service members who took issue with something the new Senate Armed Services Committee chairman, Jim Inhofe (R-Okla), told troops Thursday at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C.
From Inhofe’s mouth: “If there’s one group that knows this and doesn’t have to be told — it’s you; and that is, don’t trust the media.”
That echoes a longtime Trump theme POTUS tweeted about it just last night — but it’s no less corrosive to the public’s right to know, the military’s relationship with the public, and ultimately, democracy itself. D1’s Kevin Baron made that case, here.

For your radar: White House chief of staff John Kelly and President Trump “have stopped speaking in recent days,” which CNN translates to mean Kelly will resign soon. That story, here.   

Want the White House’s perspective on China’s rise, why a second summit with North Korea is needed, the future of U.S. tariffs, and a bit more? Take 11 minutes to hear National Security Advisor John Bolton in conversation by phone with NPR’s Steve Inskeep, over here.

Boeing has backed out of a sensitive satellite deal based on concerns an LA-based partner would resell the satellites to Beijing, WSJ reported Thursday.
The involved parties: Boeing and a Los Angeles startup called Global IP, “Boeing’s customer in the project,” the Journal writes.
The gist: “Under U.S. export-control laws, Boeing isn’t allowed to sell satellites to China directly.” Global IP is believed to have tried to sidestep that. Lots more drama to the story — including the resignation of Global IP’s two founders as well as the general counsel — here.

For what it’s worth: The U.S. trade deficit reached its highest level since 2008 ($55.5 billion) in October, the Commerce Department announced Thursday. (AP)
Another thing: The Trump admin’s “tariffs have made steel more expensive in the U.S. than almost anywhere in the world,” The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday.

This week in notable border security stats: 78% leap in monthly arrests. “The U.S. Border Patrol arrested 51,856 individuals attempting to illegally cross the southern border in November,” NPR’s Richard Gonzalez reported Thursday. “That’s a 78 percent increase over the same period last year.”
FWIW: “[T]he last time more than 50,000 people were arrested at the southern border in the month of November was 2007,” Gonzalez writes. “Back then, the unauthorized migrants were largely Mexicans. The current wave of migrants is increasingly from the Central America’s ‘Northern Triangle’ countries of Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.”

For your eyes only this weekend: The 1955 map of targets the U.S. thought the Soviets would attack in a nuclear war, via nuclear anthropologist Martin Pfeiffer.
Then ICYMI, for your ears this weekend: Hear Pfeiffer explain how he stumbled across this map as part of his research on nuclear semiotics in last week’s episode (#30) of Defense One Radio.
Because why not: Come visit another nuclear researcher’s Twitter feed for pictures of U.S. Navy sailors loading a few nuclear-armed torpedoes in the 1960s over here; stay for his personal reminder of the “broken arrow” story of the USS Scorpion, a nuclear-armed sub that was lost at sea in May 1968.

And finally this week: Something to think about. A new study shows U.S. special operations forces who do four-weeks of mindfulness training significantly improve their attention and working memory. Researchers at the University of Miami UMindfulness Initiative “followed 120 of the most elite soldiers in the United States military — Special Operations Forces — for two months.”
What they believe they’ve discovered: “[I]n addition to elite military service members, others, such as firefighters, police officers, athletes, trauma surgeons, nurses, and judges — who are asked to perform at the highest-level excellence over long time periods — could benefit from mindfulness training as a cognitive enhancement tool.” Read a bit more about the study here. (h/t @micahzenko)
Have a safe weekend, everyone. And we’ll see you again on Monday!

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