Today's D Brief: Melting runways in the UK; D1 at Farnborough, RIMPAC; Pentagon eyes 375 F-35s from LMT; D for 'detention' travel risk; And a bit more.
British authorities declared the country’s first-ever weather-related national emergency over record-high temperatures on Monday. The new record, 40.2°C, or 104.3°F, was recorded at Heathrow Airport in London, where temps are still rising Tuesday.
Heathrow is where most folks visiting this year’s Farnborough Airshow are routed before arrival. That includes Defense One’s Bradley Peniston, who is walking the floor while he serves as our eyes and ears in Farnborough this week. Follow him on Twitter, here.
The Brits even briefly halted flights at Royal Air Force Base Brize Norton in Oxfordshire because parts of the runway had reportedly melted, according to Sky News. “There is no impact on RAF operations,” the British military announced Monday on Twitter, noting that flights have been routed to alternate airports as part of earlier preparations.
Elsewhere, a portion of the runway “lifted” in the extreme heat over at London’s Luton Airport on Monday; a repair crew was reportedly able to patch that section a short while later, and now the runways are back up—er, down—and ready to receive flights.
FWIW: Britain’s previous record high was 38.7°C, or 101.6°F, recorded in Cambridge just two years ago, according to the BBC. Even the country’s rail system has advised people against travel in parts of the country (particularly in the southeast—see this map, e.g.), and some have already reportedly died trying to cool off in the seas around the UK.
Piling on: ICYMI from Heathrow, airport officials there just last week “announced a 100,000 a day passenger cap until September 11 and asked airlines to stop selling tickets for travel this summer as it struggles to deal with high demand and staffing shortages,” CNN reports.
In other aviation news: LMT just revised its annual revenue forecast downward. F-35 and F-16 manufacturer Lockheed Martin’s Aeronautics posted a 12% quarterly drop (compared to last year) on Tuesday, Reuters reported Tuesday morning. Supply chain complications and “the end of some federal funding” are the main alleged causes for the drop, according to Chief Financial Officer Jay Malave.
On the bright side for the company, “new allied interest in F-16s…surged in recent months from potentially 300 units to as many as 500,” Malave said. In addition, the LMT unit that makes High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems, or HIMARS, registered a 4% increase over the same period in 2021, with $418 million in additional revenue. Reuters has more, here.
Another bit of good fortune for LMT: It just reached a “handshake” agreement worth nearly $30 billion for the U.S. military to buy an estimated 375 F-35 fighter jets over the next three years, Reuters reported separately on Monday. Fine print: “The ‘handshake’ deal is a starting point for finalizing contract pricing and award, which will likely not be locked in for several weeks if not months. So the ultimate value of the deal—and the price for each jet variant—is still uncertain.” More here.
- “US sale of F-16s to Türkiye cannot be conditional: Defense minister,” from Ankara’s Hürriyet Daily News, reporting Tuesday; Reuters has similar coverage, here;
- “U.S. successfully flight-tests Raytheon hypersonic weapon,” Reuters reported Monday as well; more from Northrop Grumman and Raytheon, here;
- “US developing satellite system to track hypersonic weapons,” via the Associated Press, reporting Monday from two new Pentagon contract announcements worth about $1.3 billion;
- See also the very next link below.
From Defense One
Hypersonic Missile-Tracking Satellites Greenlit For Development // Lauren C. Williams: The Space Development Agency awarded L3Harris and Northrop Grumman $1.3 billion in contracts to deliver prototypes that track quick-maneuvering hypersonic missiles in flight.
UK to Fly Fighter Prototype Within Five Years, Defense Minister Says // Marcus Weisgerber: That project is proceeding under somewhat less secrecy than the Pentagon’s next-gen air-dominance effort.
A Success in Norfolk Should Also Be a Warning // John Conger: One flood-control project took a decade to complete. Lawmakers and feds can’t wait any longer to get the vast bulk of climate-mitigation work going.
Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Jennifer Hlad and Caitlin Kenney. If you’re not already subscribed to The D Brief, you can do that here. And check out other Defense One newsletters here. On this day in 1817, German physician Georg Anton Schäffer tried and failed to capture Hawaii for the Russian empire.
Rim of the Pacific. Our colleague Caitlin Kenney is in Hawaii this week covering the 28th iteration of RIMPAC, the world’s largest international maritime exercise. On Monday she watched U.S. Marines and Australian soldiers take part in amphibious training that involved a beach landing using zodiac boats, and conduct urban warfare training with troops from Malaysia, Sri Lanka, and Tonga. She also recently embarked on the USS Essex to learn more about its role as the flag ship for Combined Task Force 176, led by Republic of Korea Navy Rear Adm. Sangmin Ahn, overseeing amphibious operations. Ahn is the first South Korean admiral to command an amphibious task force aboard a U.S. Navy ship for the exercise; Singapore Navy Col. Kwan Hon Chuong is serving as the sea combat commander for the same task force, according to the Navy.
Russia is using “what are nominally six separate armies” to invade and occupy eastern Ukraine’s Donbas region, the British military said in its latest update on Tuesday. However, Russia still seems to be “struggl[ing] to sustain effective offensive combat power since the start of the invasion and this problem is likely becoming increasingly acute,” the Brits add.
Presently, “Russian planners face a dilemma between deploying reserves to the Donbas or defending against Ukrainian counterattacks in the southwestern Kherson sector,” and that would seem to suggest that the Russian invaders’ “operational tempo and rate of advance is likely to be very slow without a significant operational pause for reorganization and refit.”
Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin rang his Ukrainian counterpart Monday, which is just two days ahead of the next Ukraine Defense Contact Group, scheduled for Wednesday. Austin’s assistant secretary of defense for strategy, plans, and capabilities, Mara Karlin, visited Brussels to meet with NATO allies on Monday as well.
By the way: U.S. gas prices are now their lowest in nine weeks, according to the latest data from the American Automobile Association, which says an average gallon costs $4.495.
The White House just added a “detention risk” travel indicator to the State Department’s advisories abroad, administration officials announced after President Biden signed a new and related executive order. This new “D” indicator will fall alongside the “K” indicator concerning the risk of kidnapping and hostage-taking by non-state actors, the White House said in a statement Tuesday.
The new order “Authorizes agencies to impose costs and consequences, including financial sanctions, on those who are involved, directly or indirectly, in hostage-taking or wrongful detentions,” according to the White House. It also encourages new intelligence sharing “with families regarding their loved ones’ status and U.S. government efforts to secure their release or return, as appropriate.”
- “Griner Case Draws Attention to ‘Wrongful Detentions’,” the New York Times reported Sunday;
- “Brittney Griner's Russian incarceration reaches 150 days as tense trial continues,” via Cronkite News, reporting Sunday;
- “Free Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan. But not in a swap for [Russian arms dealer] Viktor Bout,” argues Rob Zachariasiewicz in the op-ed pages of USA Today;
- And “Griner remains imprisoned in Russia. Here are four similar cases involving Texans,” via the Dallas Morning News, reporting on Tuesday.
The U.S. military conducted another airstrike on alleged al-Shabaab militants in Somalia, U.S. Africa Command announced Monday. Two fighters are alleged to have been killed in the strike, which AFRICOM said did not harm any civilians when it landed near Libikus, Somalia. Al-Arabiya has a bit more context, here.
And lastly: U.S. military vice chiefs are testifying on America’s overall readiness for war this morning before lawmakers with the House Armed Services Readiness Subcommittee. That includes Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Joseph Martin; Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Capabilities and Resources Vice Adm. Randy Crites; Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. Eric Smith; Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. David Allvin; and Vice Chief of Space Operation Gen. David Thompson. That began at 9:30 a.m. ET. Catch it on YouTube live or in reruns, here.