The D Brief: Strikes inside Russia; Big ammo orders; Nakasone on ‘cyber force’; DOD skips primes for new drone; And a bit more.

Russia’s Ukraine invasion, day 831: Ukrainian forces appear to have used donated missiles to attack military targets inside Russia following the authorizations made public last week by officials in Europe and in Washington. 

That includes S-300/400 air defense systems north of Belgorod City, across the border and about 40 miles from the frontlines near Ukraine’s second-largest city of Kharkiv, according to the Washington-based Institute for the Study of War. “Russian sources widely speculated that Ukrainian forces used US-provided HIMARS, but Ukrainian officials have yet to comment on the strike,” ISW wrote in their Monday evening assessment. 

Pentagon chief Lloyd Austin on Ukraine’s defensive posture in the days ahead: “I think what we've seen in the past weeks and months is Russia making incremental gains across the front line trace,” Austin said Monday during a trip to Singapore. “And we saw a concerted push here in the Kharkiv region. That activity continues, but it's slowed a bit because in the Kharkiv region, the Russians are now starting to run into the defenses of the Ukrainians, and the Ukrainians have worked hard to put in coherent defenses.”

Regarding Biden’s authorization to strike inside Russia: “All of our efforts have been focused on defensive capability throughout,” Austin said. And that includes “the permissions that the president has provided in terms of the use of our weapons in firing across [the] border…And so if someone's shooting at you, then certainly, this gives them the opportunity to counter-fire.”

One reason Ukraine’s allies might authorize cross-border strikes: Russia’s aircraft-launched glide bombs “are currently being used to devastating effect both on civilian areas and Ukrainian forces on the front line,” Matthew Savill of the London-based Royal United Services Institute wrote Monday. “Some can be released from 25 miles away; in the north this can be done from Russia.”

Glide bombs “are almost impossible to intercept,” Savill explained, “and this can only be achieved at great cost with expensive missiles used for multiple incoming bombs.”

From the White House’s POV: “As the war has evolved, the battlefield conditions have changed, we have evolved and we have changed our support to Ukraine,” National Security Communications Advisor John Kirby told reporters Monday. 

Biden’s authorization that was made public last week “with respect to cross-border counter-fires is specifically focused on Ukraine’s defense against military targets that are just over the border and targets that Russia is using to physically launch offensives against Ukraine proper,” said Kirby, adding, “It just makes common sense.

For what it’s worth, Kirby noted, “our policy with respect to prohibiting the use of ATACMS, for instance, or long-range strikes, inside of Russia has not changed.”

“Our policy with respect to long-range strike into Russia has not changed,” Austin said Monday, “and I'll just leave it at that,” he said without elaborating. 

Russia’s reax: Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov reportedly said he has warned “American leaders against miscalculations that could have fatal consequences” in Ukraine. “For unknown reasons, they underestimate the seriousness of the rebuff they may receive,” he said Monday, according to state-run RIA news. 

Bigger picture: “The challenges for Ukraine in 2024 and potential answers remain the same as before [the cross-border] decision: resupply of equipment and ammunition, recruitment and training of personnel, and effective defences to prevent or slow down Russian ground advances,” said RUSI’s Savill. In other words, he concluded, “Deep strike is not a silver bullet.”

Industry watch: Germany just reportedly boosted its artillery shell orders from Rheinmetall by 200,000, Der Spiegel reported Tuesday from Berlin. The German army “had already agreed to a 1.2 billion euro deal for several hundred thousand shells, fuses and charges,” Reuters reports. But now the Bundeswehr is essentially doubling that, adding “200,000 additional 155mm artillery shells worth about 880 million euros ($960 million).” 

Relatedly, Rheinmetall says it will speed up repairs of damaged tanks from equipment donated to Ukraine. Spiegel also has that one, reporting Tuesday behind a paywall, here

Also: Army adds $1.8 billion to HIMARS contract for maker Lockheed Martin. The contract announcement doesn’t say whether that’s for the rocket ammunition or the launchers, 40 of which have been donated to Ukraine. Forecast International has a bit more context, here.

ICYMI last week, the U.S. Army inaugurated a new modular metal parts facility in Mesquite, Texas. It's known as the Universal Artillery Projectile Lines facility. Once up and running, it's expected to help increase the Army's ability to produce 155 mm shells, Deputy Pentagon Press Secretary Sabrina Singh said last week. See photos of the facility via Army public affairs here

In video: The Wall Street Journal’s Ian Lovett reported from inside a forensic lab tracing Russia’s access to U.S. microchips for weapons used in Ukraine. Catch that five-and-a-half minute report, here

And you can survey a new tally of “What Ukraine has lost during Russia’s invasion,” thanks to a team of editors and graphic designers at the New York Times, reporting Monday. 

Additional reading: 

Welcome to this Tuesday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston and Lauren Williams. Share your newsletter tips, reading recommendations, or feedback here. And if you’re not already subscribed, you can do that here. On this day in 1934, the first U.S. Navy commissioned its first purpose-built aircraft carrier, Ranger. 

Around the Defense Department

Pentagon looks beyond primes for cheaper drones. Four non-traditional defense contractors have been picked to develop drones: Anduril Industries, Integrated Solutions for Systems, Leidos Dynetics, and Zone 5 Technologies, according to today’s announcement from the Defense Innovation Unit and the Air Force Armament Directorate. 

The Air Force says smaller companies are more likely to produce a successful design that can be produced en masse and “on-call, can fly at least 500 nautical miles, deliver a kinetic payload, and use commercially-available subsystems.

Quote: “While the Armament Directorate remains committed to our highly-capable legacy products, we have become convinced that widening the aperture to include more non-traditional aerospace companies offers the best chance at accomplishing our cost-per-unit goals, project timeline, and production quantity goals,” Cassie Johnson, the armament directorate’s ETV program manager, said in the release. D1’s Audrey Decker has more, here.

Former CYBERCOM chief: The U.S. doesn’t need a separate cyber force. That’s the opinion of Paul Nakasone, the former head of Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, speaking Saturday at an event hosted by the Intelligence and National Security Alliance. 

“Do we really need a service?” Nakasone asked. “Let's first of all deal with the end state that we need to do, which is, design, deploy and deliver the best force today and for tomorrow,” he told reporters. “We're doing this right now. And there is no requirement for a service,” he said, adding, “This is how we operate, this is how we operate agilely.” 

Background: Nakasone’s comments come after lawmakers floated a policy to study the potential benefits of standing up a cyber military service. Jim Mattis, the former defense secretary, said the Pentagon needed better processes instead of another military branch. 

Standing up another service would detract from the work Cyber Command is already doing, Nakasone said. “Who's going to be in charge of the service? What are the policies of the service?” he asked. “Things that take you away from what I think is the bread and butter of what needs to be done, which is doing operations.”

“We have an election coming up this fall,” he noted. “And I know CYBERCOM and NSA are busily getting after the security of that election. And so, we don't want our focus taken away from that. We don't want our focus taken away from ransomware. We don't want our focus taken away from hunt forward operations. Again, that's, you know, private citizen veteran, Paul Nakasone speaking.”