Today's D Brief: Navy downs drone near Yemen; Gaza ceasefire extended; WH warns Turkey; China’s actual A2AD challenge; And a bit more.
The U.S. Navy shot down what it says was an Iranian-made drone launched from Yemen on Wednesday. The drone, a KAS-04 unmanned aerial vehicle, came from “Houthi-controlled areas of Yemen” and toward destroyer USS Carney as the U.S. vessel escorted two ships in the southern Red Sea, according to U.S. officials at the Tampa-based Central Command.
“Although its intentions are not known, the UAV was heading toward the warship” at around 11 a.m. local time, CENTCOM said in a statement Wednesday. “There were no injuries to U.S. personnel and no damage to U.S. vessels,” they added.
That follows a separate incident Wednesday where the Navy says a different Iranian drone “took unsafe and unprofessional actions near [the] USS Dwight D. Eisenhower” aircraft carrier strike group as it transited international waters in the Central Arabian Gulf. You can view images of the carrier in the Hormuz Strait on Sunday here.
“Multiple hails and warnings were ignored by Iran” as the drone flew as close as 1,500 yards from the carrier, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, said in a statement Wednesday. The Navy doesn’t appear to have responded to that incident, choosing instead to emphasize that “manned and unmanned aircraft [are] to remain greater than 10 nautical miles from the aircraft carrier in order to ensure safety of flight of military and civilian aviation.”
New: Mediators in Qatar say they’ve extended the Israeli-Hamas ceasefire for one more day in the hopes of releasing more detainees and hostages, which has happened six times so far. The announcement came minutes before the prior agreement was due to expire Thursday morning at 7 a.m. local.
U.S. State Secretary Antony Blinken is in Israel today meeting with Israeli officials including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Blinken says he “emphasized the need for Israel to take every possible measure to avoid civilian harm” in his discussions with Bibi. He also says he “reiterated the United States’ ongoing support of Israel’s right to defend itself in compliance with international humanitarian law and emphasized the need for tangible steps to de-escalate tensions in the West Bank” in his discussions with Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
The White House’s top sanctions official visited Turkey with a warning Wednesday: “It would be very bad if any future attack by Hamas was connected to fundraising or facilitation that occurred in Turkey,” Brian Nelson, Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, told reporters in Ankara. “We’re committed to [doing] everything we can to cut off all of those things and want to do that in partnership with Turkey, but are prepared to act unilaterally as well,” he said, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Recall that Turkish President Recep Erdogan is a fan of Hamas, and said just last month, “Hamas is not a terrorist organization, it is a liberation and mujahedeen group, trying to protect its land.”
U.S. President Joe Biden tossed his support behind an extended ceasefire, writing Wednesday on social media, “Hamas unleashed a terrorist attack because they fear nothing more than Israelis and Palestinians living side by side in peace. To continue down the path of terror, violence, killing, and war is to give Hamas what they seek. We can’t do that.”
What’s next for Israel in Gaza? Nothing official, but several proposals are in the works, according to Dion Nissenbaum of the Wall Street Journal, reporting Thursday from Tel Aviv. One plan includes creating “Hamas-free safe zones” to be “ruled by a new Gaza authority backed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates,” Nissenbaum writes. Another plan leans on the Palestine Liberation Organization’s Israeli-imposed exodus from Beirut in 1982. In that deal, Israel allowed more than 10,000 Palestinian fighters to leave Lebanon for Tunisia. More, here.
Welcome to this Thursday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Like the newsletter? Share it with a friend or sign up here. On this day in 1967, South Yemen broke free of British control to become the People's Republic of Yemen. Two weeks later, it was admitted to the UN as a member state. Following a civil war and the breakup of the Soviet Union, southern Yemen united with the North to form the borders we know today.
Developing: Japanese officials want the U.S. military to ground its Osprey aircraft after a fatal crash Wednesday off the coast of southern Japan, near the island of Yakushima. The request was made public Thursday, and included pleas from Japan’s Defense Ministry and Foreign Minister Yoko Kamikawa.
Rewind: “A U.S. Osprey crashed into the sea in southern Japan in 2016 without any loss of life,” the Wall Street Journal reminded readers Thursday. “After that incident, the U.S. suspended flights by the aircraft in response to a request from Japan.” And in August, a U.S. Osprey crashed off the northern Australian coast, killing three Marines.
Japan says it’s suspending flight operations for its 14 Ospreys at least until an investigation is completed, Reuters reported Thursday from Tokyo.
This week in big ideas: We’re thinking about China’s ‘anti-access’ challenge exactly backward, argues New America’s Peter Singer in the latest installment of his China Intelligence column at D1.
“Our core challenge is not actually how to pop that A2AD bubble; we do not actually want to seize and hold any territory currently held by the People’s Liberation Army,” Singer writes. “It is actually the inverse: how can we create our own robust anti-access aerial denial around our bases and allies, with our own cost advantages? This is the actual path to ensure that China is deterred from ever choosing the path of conflict.”
That suggests three lines of effort, he writes, which you can read about here.
P&W gets sole-source contracts to improve F-35 engines. Years ago, the Pentagon “under-specced” the engine that powers the jet slated to become the backbone of U.S. military tactical aviation. As a result, these engines have been run hotter than designed, and are therefore wearing out faster than planned. The Pentagon sought a fix, and Pratt & Whitney won with a plan to upgrade its existing F135 engines, defeating GE Aerospace’s proposal to replace the engine with newer technology.
Yesterday, DOD formally announced the decision; P&W says the upgrades will be ready in 2029. D1’s Audrey Decker reports.
And lastly: Catch a rare glimpse of a P-8 Poseidon surveillance aircraft that’s now in the shallow waters off the coast of Marine Corps Base Hawaii. Navy divers surveyed the scene on Tuesday and posted video of that work to DVIDS this week.
The aircraft skidded off the runway while trying to land after heavy rains nine days ago. Fortunately, all nine personnel on board were able to safely evacuate the aircraft. “The Navy is developing a plan to remove the aircraft that prioritizes safety of people (salvage workers), safety of the environment and restoring combat capability of the aircraft,” officials said in a statement accompanying the Tuesday video.