Today's D Brief: EU to miss Ukraine-aid goal; F-16 training base opens; NATO’s cable focus; DOD’s new ethical-AI tools; And a bit more.

Just in: The EU won’t reach its goal of providing Ukraine with 1 million artillery shells and missiles by March 2024, German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said Tuesday in Brussels. “There were voices that warned: 'You better watch out, 1 million is easily said, the money is available, [but] the production must be there'. These warning voices have been proven right now, unfortunately,” Pistorius told reporters, according to Reuters. “I didn't promise 1 million rounds, and that was on purpose. The right question to be asked would be whether 1 million was ever a realistic goal.”  

The actual delivered total is closer to 300,000 artillery shells and missiles, according to EU Foreign Policy chief Josep Borrell. One big hurdle: “the European defence industry exported some 40% of its output to countries outside the EU,” Borrell said Tuesday. Politico and CNN have similar coverage here and here, respectively. 

New: Ukraine says its partners’ F-16 Training Center has finally opened at Romania’s 86th Fetesti Air Base. Staff are using F-16s from the Dutch to train European pilots, not just Ukrainian ones desperate for better airpower to fight off Russian invaders across the south and eastern parts of the country. 

Seven pilots have begun training, but none are Ukrainian, according to Reuters, reporting Monday. When asked when Ukrainians might begin training at Fetesti, officials were not certain; but one told the wire service it could start possibly “at the beginning of next year.” AP has a tiny bit more, here

Meanwhile in Russian-occupied southern Ukraine, apparent partisans killed three Russian national guard officers Saturday in the city of Melitopol, the New York Times reported Monday. Similarly, “Mykhailo Filiponenko, the former head of a pro-Russian militia in the Luhansk region, in eastern Ukraine, was assassinated last week in a car explosion,” according to Russian state-run media. 

Big picture: “The attacks come as the military counteroffensive launched by the government in Kyiv in June has largely stalled, having failed to accomplish its core objectives,” the Times reports. “Indeed, little ground has changed hands in Ukraine this year despite intense fighting and substantial casualties on both sides, and Russia still retains control over around one-fifth of Ukraine’s territory.” The Moscow Times has more on the three Russians killed in Melitopol, here

NATO says it’s strengthening its members’ abilities to defend underwater infrastructure following a series of incidents that have damaged pipelines and communications cables, Defense One’s Sam Skove reported Monday. 

Background: As much as 95 percent of the world’s data passes through underwater cables, with some of the oldest connecting the United States and Canada to their NATO partners in Europe. Fishing vessels and commercial vessels occasionally cut such cables, as occurred in October 2022 near Scotland. And just this week, Finland reported that a Chinese vessel had cut several communications cables and a gas cable, apparently after dragging its anchor through them. 

But some incidents appear to be intentional. For example, three of four lines of the Russian-built Nord Stream pipelines were damaged in September 2022. Sweden later discovered evidence that explosives were used. On Saturday, the Washington Post reported that Ukraine was responsible, citing Ukrainian officials and “other people knowledgeable about the details of the covert operation.” The possibility of sabotage, meanwhile, has observers probing any cable-cutting incident for evidence that it may be intentional.

“There are well-proven capabilities that are designed to attack that infrastructure,” said Royal Navy Rear Adm. Tim Henry, deputy commander of the alliance’s Joint Force Command Norfolk. “Some nations have the ability to interact [with that infrastructure] in very, very, very remote parts of the world,” Henry said in an interview. Continue reading, here.

Additional reading: 

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston and Lauren Williams. If you’re not already subscribed, you can sign up here. On this day in 1967, American physicist Theodore Maiman patented the world’s first laser.

The United States is giving Israel weapons on a “case-by-case” basis, a top State Department official said Monday, as intense airstrikes in Gaza continue and destruction mounts after the first month of the Israel-Hamas war.

“Just like in any country, the decision to send weapons to any particular country is a case-by-case review that occurs. Israel is no different in that than any other country in the world,” Stan Brown, principal deputy assistant secretary of State for political-military affairs, said in an interview with Defense One’s Audrey Decker on the sidelines of the Dubai Air Show Monday. 

Worth noting: The Biden administration has placed no limits on how Israel uses U.S.-made arms in the conflict. And if U.S. defense firms have voiced concerns over how their products are being employed, Brown said he’s unaware of it. Still, some lawmakers are weary about the lack of transparency about what, exactly, is being sent to Israel. The administration has not publicly disclosed the quantities of weapons, nor provided anything like the fact sheets that have routinely been released about aid packages for Ukraine. Read on, here

Also from the Dubai Air Show: General Atomics says its Self-Protection Pod might have saved the MQ-9 Reaper drone recently downed near Yemen—and that they’re nearing the first sale of the $4 million pod to “a U.S. customer.” GA also says it’s making progress on a proposed sale of MQ-9s to UAE, having untangled the deal from the controversial F-35 sale. Decker has more, here.

Big win for Boeing. Amid a rough year on the military side, Boeing leaders must have been cheered by the newly announced $52 billion sale of 90 777 aircraft to Emirates. What’s more, Emirates’ “low-cost sister airline, FlyDubai, followed up with an $11 billion order of 30 Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners,” the Associated Press reported Monday from the air show.

The Pentagon just released a new set of “ethical artificial intelligence tools” to help users use the technology more responsibly, Defense One’s Lauren Williams reports. The “Responsible AI Toolkit” is a consolidation of existing policies and guidance in a single location. 

Why it matters: Officials are hoping to build user trust and develop safe and secure tools in accordance with the Defense Department’s responsible AI implementation plan from 2022. In a news release announcing the product, Craig Martell, the Pentagon’s chief digital and AI officer, called it “foundational for anything that the DOD builds and ships” and will help “establish processes to design and employ human fail-safes in AI development and deployment.”

And lastly: Today in Washington, several top defense officials are slated to speak at this year’s Politico Defense Summit, whose rolling agenda seems to broadly span much of the day. 

Army and Air Force Secretaries Christine Wormuth and Frank Kendall, respectively, are featured attendees. Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition and Sustainment William LaPlante is also on the schedule, as is Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command’s Air Force Gen. Glen VanHerck. Lawmakers, think tankers, and officials from Europe are also expected to speak. Details, here