Today's D Brief: Budget drop; Ukraine’s wide-ranging drone raid; Somalia strike; Space Force interview; And a bit more.

The Defense Department’s $849.8 billion request for 2025, constrained by law and arriving before Congress has passed a 2024 budget, aims to retire older weapons such as 56 A-10 Warthogs, and pull back on new orders for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and new Virginia-class submarines, officials said Monday after the Biden administration sent the proposal to Capitol Hill.

The request includes money to shore up the defense industry—what Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks called “an historic investment in the submarine industrial base to increase production and reduce backlogs.” 

The procurement hit was the inevitable result of a cap plus increasing maintenance costs, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute. “This should be the wake-up call that tells us we need to be buying different stuff. It's not about continuing to buy the same things that we did in the past, because clearly they're too expensive,” he said. “We need to come up with less expensive, more scalable alternatives.” Defense One’s Patrick Tucker has more, here.

The services’ requests:

  • Air Force: $188.1 billion, some $3 billion more than last year’s budget request, in a plan that would retire 250 aircraft to boost research and development. D1’s Audrey Decker has the numbers, here.
  • Space Force: $29.4 billion, which is $600 million below last year’s request and the first decline in the four-year-old service’s history.
  • Army: $185.9 billion, an increase of 0.2 percent over the 2024 budget request, but a real cut when adjusted for inflation. The 2025 request sticks with a recent shift toward munitions that might be of use in a conflict with China or Russia. D1’s Sam Skove reports.
  • Navy: $203.9 billion, barely $1 billion more than last year’s request and a real cut after inflation. The proposal calls for buying six battle force ships, retiring 19, and delaying several programs and R&D efforts, USNI News reports.
  • Marine Corps: $53.7 billion, about the same as last year and a real cut. 

Streaming today: Chief of Space Operations Gen. Chance Saltzman sat down for an interview with our colleague Audrey Decker to kick off Defense One’s state of the services digital event series. You can watch that discussion when it airs this afternoon at 2:05 p.m. ET. Registration is required, but it’s free. Details here.

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback for the year ahead here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1999, the Czech Republic, Hungary and Poland joined NATO, becoming the first former members of the Warsaw Pact to join the Russia-focused alliance based in Brussels. 

Ukrainian drones attacked eight regions across Russia overnight, knocking out at least one oil refinery in what Reuters described as a “major attack” early Tuesday with more than two dozen drones. A refinery in Russia’s Nizhny Novgorod region, which is about 480 miles from the Ukrainian border, erupted in flames; a second depot that was attacked, in the Oryol region, is almost 100 miles from Ukraine. 

Ukrainian drones were also reportedly intercepted over Russia's Belgorod, Bryansk, Kursk, Leningrad and Tula regions, according to Moscow’s defense ministry

And east of Moscow, a Russian Il-76 military-transport plane crashed shortly after take-off Tuesday, state-run TASS reported. Eight crew and seven passengers were on board when an engine caught fire before the crash, which occurred more than 450 miles from Ukraine. 

New: Pro-Ukrainian Russian armed groups claimed several raids in Russian territory on Tuesday. “The Freedom of Russia Legion and Siberian Battalion posted videos purportedly showing their fighters in Russia's Belgorod and Kursk regions,” the BBC reported after the claims surfaced on social media. 

“Like all our fellow citizens, in the Legion we dream of a Russia freed from Putin's dictatorship,” a soldier said in one of the videos. “But we don't just dream: we make every effort to make these dreams come true,” he said. Read more from AP, here

Developing: U.S. defense contractor Northrop Grumman will soon help build air and missile defense systems for Germany in a new partnership with Diehl Defence group. Diehl is the German firm behind the IRIS-T SLM air defense system, variants of which have been sent to Ukraine to help defend against Russian missile attacks. Northrop Grumman's Rebecca Torzone and Diehl’s Torsten Cook signed a Memorandum of Understanding officially advancing the joint effort Tuesday in Berlin.

The two titans of industry are teaming up to construct “innovative layered air and missile defense capabilities for Germany,” with the hopes of modernizing NATO and Europe missile defenses, according to Grumman’s announcement. Read more, here.  

Back stateside, Polish President Andrzej Duda and Prime Minister Donald Tusk are visiting the White House Tuesday afternoon, a day after Duda warned in the Washington Post, “NATO members must raise their defense spending to 3 percent of GDP.” 

Duda: “The war in Ukraine has clearly shown that the United States is and should remain the leader in security issues in Europe and the world,” the Polish president said in televised remarks Monday. “However, other NATO countries must also take greater responsibility for the security of the entire alliance and intensively modernize and strengthen their troops,” he added. 

Additional reading: 

The U.S. military conducted a new airstrike in Somalia on Sunday, its first in nearly a month, according to officials at Africa Command. 

At least three alleged al-Shabaab militants are believed to have been killed in the strike, which “occurred in a remote area in the vicinity of Ugunji approximately 71 km southwest of Mogadishu,” AFRICOM said in an announcement Tuesday. 

Elsewhere in the country, al-Shabaab claims to have taken control of a town called Ba’adweyne in a region north of the capital city known as Mudug, Harun Maruf of Voice of America reported Tuesday morning. Shabaab fighters say they seized control after government forces reportedly withdrew. 

By the way, the newly released 2024 U.S. Intelligence Annual Threat Assessment notes that Shabaab “expanded its operations in Northeast Kenya” last year, which is helping the group pose a “multinational” counterterrorism threat to the region in the months ahead. 

Related reading: 

Today on Capitol Hill: U.S. hypersonic weapons development goes under the microscope at a House Armed Services Subcommittee on Strategic Forces hearing. Six different witnesses are slated to testify beginning at 3 p.m. ET, including the Pentagon’s Principal Director for Hypersonics Dr. James Weber, and Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Force Development and Emerging Capabilities Dr. Michael Horowitz. Details and livestream, here

Shortly after that begins, HASC’s Subcommittee on Seapower and Projection Forces will discuss the future of the Air Force’s aviation capabilities. USAF Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Andrew Hunter and Deputy Chief of Staff for Plans and Programs Lt. Gen. Richard G. Moore Jr. are expected for that one, which is scheduled for 3:30 p.m. ET. More info, here