The D Brief: Drone refuels jet; Biden's message to Europe; US embassy in Afghanistan; JADC2 uncertainty; And a bit more...

Drone refuels fighter jet in flight. A milestone both for aviation and for the U.S. Navy’s plans to integrate UAVs into carrier operations, the June 4 test flight over Illinois saw the MQ-25 T1 Stingray drone pass some 325 pounds of fuel to an F/A-18F Super Hornet.

“Friday’s historic test gets us one step closer to providing MQ-25’s critical capabilities to the fleet,” Capt. Chad Reed, the program manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Carrier Aviation program office, told reporters Monday.

The Boeing-built MQ-25 is to become the first unmanned aircraft added to carrier air wings, for which it will handle some intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance tasks along with its refueling duties, Defense One’s Caitlin Kenney writes. Read that—and watch a Boeing video of the refueling—here.

From Defense One

In Europe, Biden Hopes to Ease Fears of an American Return to Trumpism // Jacqueline Feldscher: The president will point to America’s actions—and his election—as evidence that the United States can be a trusted partner again.

Navy Drone Refuels Fighter Jet, a Key Step Toward Adding UAVs to Carrier Wings // Caitlin M. Kenney: The MQ-25 T1 Stingray is slated for tests on an aircraft carrier later this year ahead of a planned 2025 deployment.

US Could Close Kabul Embassy If Future Afghanistan Government Includes Taliban, Top General Says // Tara Copp: CENTCOM's Gen. McKenzie says U.S. military will still be able to help interpreters and other Afghan helpers after departure.

Pentagon’s Accelerating ‘Connect-Everything’ Effort Hinges on Uncertain Cloud Program // Patrick Tucker: If the JEDI program collapses, JADC2 is going to need a replacement cloud.

The Air & Space Brief // Tara Copp: Space Force wish list; AF2 plans, scrapped; Supply rockets?; And more...

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief from Bradley Peniston with Jennifer Hlad. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. On this day in 1966, a prototype XB-70 Valkyrie collided in midair with an F-104 Starfighter, destroying both aircraft and killing two aircrew.

As President Biden preps for his upcoming Europe trip, he “is seeking to show allies that Americans have rejected Trump’s confrontational message and policies,” writes Defense One’s Jacqueline Feldscher.As President Joe Biden heads to Europe this weekend declaring ‘America’s back,’ he also will try to convince nervous allies that the Donald Trump era in American politics was an unwelcome anomaly that won’t return in two or four years, and that his election and policies are proof positive of it, a top White House advisor said Monday.” Read on, here.

U.S. will keep an embassy in Kabul, but only under certain conditions, the commander of U.S. Central Command told reporters Monday. “U.S. and coalition forces and the international embassies supporting them are there at the invitation of the current Aghan government led by President Ashraf Ghani. But that welcome may disappear if a new governing structure emerges that includes the Taliban,” reports Defense One’s Tara Copp.

“We won’t be there unless we’re, you know, we are invited to be there,” Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth McKenzie told reporters on a Dubai media phone interview Monday. Read more, here.

Profile of the last American commander in Afghanistan. That’s Army Gen. Austin “Scott” Miller, a former Joint Special Operations Command leader who was tapped in 2018 to take over U.S. forces in Afghanistan. He led the initial drawdown ordered by Trump and is now overseeing the final withdrawal ordered by Biden. Washington Post’s Dan Lamothe talked to more than a dozen of Miller’s colleagues and U.S. officials; read on, here.

Uncertainties loom as JADC2 moves to a new phase. SecDef Lloyd Austin has signed off on the joint operating concept based on the Joint All Domain Command and Control effort, but that connect-everything idea depends on having an enterprise-sized cloud. 

That was supposed to be provided by the JEDI program, which has ground to a standstill thanks to protests, and may even be canceled. Read on, here.

Today in DC: 

  • 11 a.m.: Acting Assistant Air Force Secretary for Acquisition, Technology, and Logistics Darlene Costello, Lt. Gen. David Nahom and Lt. Gen. S. Clinton Hinote will testify at a House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee hearing on Air Force projection forces, aviation programs, and capabilities related to the fiscal 2022 budget.
  • 11:15 a.m. Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks will participate in a fireside chat as part of the virtual Center for a New American Security 2021 National Security Conference. Register at
  • Noon: Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby will host a news gaggle in the Pentagon briefing room. 
  • 1:30 p.m.: National Guard Chief Gen. Daniel Hokanson will brief the press on the State of the Guard in the Pentagon briefing room.
  • 2 p.m.: Acting Air Force Secretary John Roth, Air Force Chief Gen. C.Q. Brown, and Chief of Space Operations Gen. Jay Raymond testify at a Senate Appropriations Committee defense subcommittee hearing on the U.S. Air Force and U.S. Space Force budget. 
  • 2:30 p.m.: Acting Deputy Assistant Navy Secretary for Research, Development, and Acquisition Frederick Stefany, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, and Vice Adm. James Kilby testify at a Senate Armed Services Committee seapower subcommittee hearing on Navy and Marine Corps investment programs. 

Lastly today: The U.S. Navy has commissioned USS Canberra, a littoral combat ship that is the only active warship named for a foreign capital. (CNN)