The D Brief: More aid to Ukraine; NATO to up military goals?; Gaza pier running again; China’s latest aircraft carrier; And a bit more.

New: The U.S. is soon sending $225 million in more military aid to Ukraine. It’s the 59th such drawdown from the Defense Department’s munitions and equipment stockpiles in almost three years, the Pentagon said while detailing some of the deliveries Friday morning.

Like so many before, this latest package focuses on air defense and artillery munitions (HAWK and Stinger missiles, along with HIMARS and 155mm rounds), as well as some common anti-tank gear (TOW missiles, Javelin and AT-4 anti-armor systems).

Also included: M113 Armored Personnel Carriers and more riverine patrol boats

Wonk reax: “These regular aid packages are critical for sustaining Ukraine's war effort, particularly its needs for artillery and air defense munitions,” John Hardie, deputy director of the Russia Program at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, told The D Brief. “But even as we continue to meet Ukraine's day-to-day needs, Washington should also be looking ahead to next year and helping Ukraine put the pieces in place to regain the advantage in 2025.”

New from Paris: France will give Ukraine Mirage 2000-5 fighter jets as part of a plan that involves training pilots inside the borders of French President Emmanuel Macron’s home country. Macron announced the transfers Thursday during commemorations for the 80th anniversary of D-Day. 

Worth noting: France has only 26 Mirage 2000-5s, part of a tactical fleet that includes about 200 Mirage and Rafale aircraft, Le Monde reported after Macron made his plans public. “These numbers have already barely sufficed for France to carry out all the missions for which it is responsible on a day-to-day basis (territorial surveillance, deterrence, participation in NATO missions, etc.),” Le Monde writes. 

By the way: While in France, President Biden said he was sorry to Ukraine’s leader for the Republican-led, seven-month delay in authorizing new military aid to Kyiv. “I apologize for those weeks of not knowing what’s going to happen in terms of funding,” Biden told visiting President Volodymir Zelenskyy in Paris on Friday. 

Ukrainian forces shot down 48 of 53 Shahed drones fired from Russia overnight, Kyiv’s military said on Facebook Friday. Five other cruise missiles were also fired at Ukraine, but were allegedly shot down before reaching their targets. 

Russia’s military says U.S.-provided ATACMS missiles targeted the Russian-held city of Luhansk on Friday. The Defense Ministry claims four of those missiles were shot down by Russian air defenses, but “One rocket hit two apartment buildings. As a result, according to preliminary data, more than 20 civilians were injured, including children,” according to a Friday post on Telegram. 

Developing: “The NATO alliance is expected to set its members more demanding targets to bolster their air defence, long-range missiles and logistics capability,” Reuters reported in a very terse dispatch Friday from Berlin. We’d share more, but the report is just two sentences long. Read the rest, here

Additional reading: 

Welcome to this Friday edition of The D Brief, brought to you by Ben Watson with Bradley Peniston. 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 1981, Israeli F-16A fighter aircraft destroyed Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor south of Baghdad.

Gaza developments

New: The U.S. military’s temporary pier in Gaza is back up and running, officials at Central Command announced Friday. The project, made possible thanks to U.S. Army troops building out what’s known as Joint Logistics Over the Shore, was halted last week after adverse weather and choppy seas broke the floating causeway apart, sending four main elements adrift in the Mediterranean on Tuesday. 

The floating bridge has been reassembled and should be operational “in [the] coming days,” CENTCOM said Friday on social media, 10 days after the JLOTS pieces were scattered at sea. 

Background: “The pier was only operational for a week before a storm broke it apart, and had initially struggled to reach delivery goals,” the Associated Press reports. “Weather was a factor, and early efforts to get aid from the pier into Gaza were disrupted as civilians desperate for food stormed the trucks that aid agencies were using to transport the food to the warehouses for distribution.”

Elsewhere in the region, U.S. and coalition forces intercepted a dozen drones and missiles from Yemen on Thursday. That included nine drones flying over the Red Sea, two drone boats on the Red Sea, and an anti-ship ballistic missile headed for a vessel in the Red Sea, according to CENTCOM.  

Afterward, Iran-backed Houthi terrorists detained at least nine UN employees across four provinces inside Yemen: Amran, Hodeida, Saada and Saana. “It’s unclear what exactly sparked the detentions,” AP reports from Dubai. “However, it comes as the Houthis have faced issues with having enough currency to support the economy in areas they hold — something signaled by their move to introduce a new coin into the Yemeni currency, the riyal.” Read on, here

Pacific region

What China’s latest aircraft carrier means—to China. Along with technical and operational advances, the Fujian represents a response to 19th-century humiliation. J. Michael Dahm of BluePath Labs and New America’s Peter W. Singer explain in the latest edition of The China Intelligence column.

If Xi wants to take Taiwan by force, he’ll likely act in the next decade, said Peter Rudd, twice Australia’s prime minister and currently its ambassador to the United States. In a Thursday speech in Honolulu, Rudd said Chinese leader Xi Jinping, who turns 71 this month, would likely act before he reaches his 80s unless deterred by the United States. 

"We would be foolish to ignore the increasing clarity of China's military signalling, including the pattern of its most recent military exercises," Rudd said.

If the U.S. does not prevent such a Chinese takeover, Rudd said, it would have "profound, and potentially irreversible effect on the perceived reliability of U.S. alliances worldwide."

But he said that China and the U.S. should see a common interest in avoiding a war that would have "economic costs, domestic political impacts, and unknowable geo-strategic consequences...of an order of magnitude that we have not seen since the Second World War.” Reuters has more.

ICYMI: The U.S. has approved a sale of F-16 parts worth $80 million to Taiwan, the Pentagon's Defense Security Cooperation Agency announced late Wednesday night. (Reuters)

Around the Defense Department

As missile threats proliferate, here’s how the Pentagon is trying to keep up. A booster tweak might improve an anti-ICBM weapon while a next-gen missile-spotting constellation comes online. Defense One’s Patrick Tucker has more, here.

Lastly this week: DOD CIO resigns to take university post. John Sherman, whose leadership of tech at DOD spanned the Trump and Biden administrations, will become dean of the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M, it was announced on Thursday. “At DOD, Sherman championed zero-trust cybersecurity policies and was an advocate for research and development and fielding of artificial intelligence capabilities. He led the effort to pivot to virtual remote work for DOD staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, and he was a key player in the cancellation of the embattled Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure cloud contract, as well as the development of its replacement, the $9 billion Joint Warfighter Cloud Capability vehicle,” writes FCW/Nextgov’s Adam Mazmanian.

Have a safe weekend, and we’ll see you on Monday.