SAUDI ARABIA CLOSED FOR BUSINESS: U.S. defense contractors were set to make tens of billions of dollars, possibly up to $350 billion over the coming decade, as part of President Trump’s renewed arms sales relationship with Saudi Arabia. “Saudi Arabia is a very wealthy nation, and they’re going to give the United States some of that wealth, hopefully, in the form of jobs, in the form of the purchase of the finest military equipment anywhere in the world,” Trump told Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in March.

How things have changed. Any upcoming arms deals with the kingdom could be on hold. The Senate is standing in the way after the crown prince’s government is alleged to have murdered Washington-based journalist Jamal Khashoggi and dismembered him with a bone saw. Turkey has audio and video recordings that captured the act, the Washington Post reported Thursday night. “You can hear how he was interrogated, tortured and then murdered,” an anonymous U.S. official told the paper.

“My only involvement recently is with one of the defense contractors, and I’ve shared with him before this happened, ‘Please do not push to have any arms sales brought up right now because they will not pass. It will not happen.’ With this, I can assure you it won’t happen for a while,” said Sen. Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Khashoggi’s disappearance after entering a Saudi consulate in Turkey could “end very badly,” said Sen. Cory Gardner, who is the National Republican Senatorial Committee chairman. “Arms sales are certainly going to be, I think, a huge concern if there is responsibility,” he said.

Sen. Chris Murphy, a Democrat on the Foreign Relations Committee, said he stands ready to block any attempt by the Trump administration to clear weapons transactions with the kingdom as lawmakers seek details on the alleged murder. “If an arms sale is noticed to the full Senate and we are given a 30-day window to disapprove, I will introduce a motion of disapproval,” he said.

BILLIONS AT STAKE: The Saudis are among the biggest foreign buyers of weapons. Congress has approved nearly $20 billion in foreign military sales to Saudi Arabia since Trump announced an agreement in May 2017 with the kingdom for $110 billion and up to $350 billion in purchases over the coming decade. Most of that so far has come from the $15 billion sale of the Lockheed Martin Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, to the Saudis in October 2017. The last sale to the kingdom was in April and any new deal must be sent to Congress for approval.

TRUMP DEFIANT: Despite the rising alarm and resistance in the Senate, Trump said he is not yet willing to give up on the lucrative new relationship with the Saudis that he touted last year. “What good does it do us?” Trump told reporters in response to questions about whether his administration would consider stopping arms sales, saying the kingdom could instead just go shopping with adversaries such as Russia or China.

“We don’t like it, and we don’t like it even a little bit,” Trump said of the alleged Khashoggi murder. “But as to whether or not we should stop $110 billion from being spent in this country, knowing they have four or five alternatives, two of them being very good alternatives, that would not be acceptable to me.”

Good Friday morning and welcome to Jamie McIntyre’s Daily on Defense, compiled by Washington Examiner National Security Senior Writer Jamie McIntyre (@jamiejmcintyre), National Security Writer Travis J. Tritten (@travis_tritten) and Senior Editor David Brown (@dave_brown24). Email us here for tips, suggestions, calendar items and anything else. If a friend sent this to you and you’d like to sign up, click here. If signing up doesn’t work, shoot us an email and we’ll add you to our list. And be sure to follow us on Twitter @dailyondefense.

HAPPENING TODAY — HURRICANE UPDATE: Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, director of the Army National Guard, will host a media roundtable at the National Guard Bureau at 2:30 p.m. to discuss the response to Hurricane Michael. The Army said it has 4,000 soldiers in Georgia, North Carolina and Kentucky ready to help with recovery efforts and the Florida Army National Guard has activated 2,000 of its soldiers for recovery in the state.

GILLIBRAND HOLDING UP STIMSON: Mystery solved. Trump’s nominee to be the Navy’s general counsel, who has languished in the Senate for more than 14 months, is being held up by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, her office confirmed to the Washington Examiner. The senator did not provide a reason for her hold on Charles “Cully” Stimson. But the senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation was a strong critic of Gillibrand’s attempts in recent years to pass legislation reforming military sexual assault prosecutions.

In 2016, Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act, a signature piece of legislation for the senator, was facing a third potential vote in the chamber after failing twice before. The bill would have removed sex assault prosecutions from the military chain of command. Stimson wrote a critical column dubbing the legislation the “Military Justice Destruction Act” and charged Gillibrand with pushing a “radical scheme that, if enacted, would render the military justice system unworkable and ineffective.”

F-35 FLIGHTS SUSPENDED: All F-35 aircraft were temporarily grounded Thursday following the crash of one of its jump-jet variants in late September in South Carolina, according to a U.S. military statement.

Flight personnel were ordered to inspect a fuel tube inside each F-35's engine, pull out bad ones, and return aircraft with known good tubes to flight status. Inspections on the Pratt & Whitney engines are expected to be completed within the next 48 hours, the F-35 Joint Program Office said Thursday morning. Some aircraft were back on flying status in short order, including F-35Bs flying off the carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth.

TYNDALL RAVAGED: Tyndall Air Force Base on the Florida panhandle suffered severe damage from Hurricane Michael. “There is no power, water or sewer service to the base at this time. All personnel assigned to ride out the storm are accounted for with no injuries,” the Air Force said in a statement. The service was flying over the base to assess the damage, working to clear a route to base, and to provide water, latrines and communication equipment. You can see video of the damage, including an upended jet on static display, here.

PASTOR TO BE SET FREE: The White House has reportedly reached a deal with Turkey that secures the release of detained American pastor Andrew Brunson. Brunson, who has been imprisoned in Turkey since 2016, is expected to be freed after terrorism-related charges laid against him are dropped during his next court appearance on Friday, NBC News reported Thursday. His detention has raised the ire of Congress and threatened Ankara’s plans to purchase more than 100 F-35s.

Sens. Thom Tillis and Jeanne Shaheen added legislation to the National Defense Authorization Act putting a hold on transfers of the jets until the Pentagon submits a report on the relationship with Turkey.

“I think in the Turkish courts your best-case scenario is being found guilty and then being deported. Very seldom have we seen any of these cases that have gone under the emergency powers work out well for the accused. But we are hopeful that we can bring the judicial process to a close and bring him home. I just spoke with him on Saturday,” Tillis said. “The alternative is 35 years in prison.”

MOVE OVER, AIR FORCE ONE: In one of many surreal moments during Kanye West’s visit to the Oval Office yesterday, the artist suggested to President Trump that he replace Air Force One with a hydrogen-powered aircraft he called “iPlane One.”

“This is what our president should be flying in,” West said, before thumbing open his iPhone and showing Trump an image. "We'll get rid of Air Force One," Trump responded. "Can we get rid of Air Force One?"

Jeff Schogol over at Task & Purpose asked the Air Force for comment. “The Air Force is dedicated to providing the Office of the President of the United States with safe, reliable air transportation that provides all required mission capabilities to execute the constitutional responsibilities of Commander in Chief, Head of State, and Chief Executive,” the service said in a statement.


Washington Examiner: Dina Powell is no longer under consideration to replace Haley

Reuters: Five Eyes intelligence alliance builds coalition to counter China

Associated Press: Army expelled 500 immigrant recruits in 1 year

Defense News: To up fighter readiness levels, Pentagon looks to retire older planes and fix supply chains F-22 Raptor Makes Emergency Landing in Alaska

USNI News: USS Essex Enters Persian Gulf with Squadron of Marine F-35s

Military Times: Head of military school fired for using marijuana extract to treat cancer



8 a.m. 300 1st St. SE. Space Threats to the US:  A Discussion with Jeff Gossel, Senior Intelligence Engineer with the Space and Missiles Analysis Group at the National Air and Space Intelligence Center.

12 noon. 214 Massachusetts Ave. NE. The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age with David Sanger.


7 a.m. 100 Westgate Circle. 23rd Annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference.

8 a.m. 1400 14th St. N. Procurement Division Meeting.

9:30 a.m. Dirksen G-50. Hearing on Nominations of Thomas McCaffery to be Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, and William Bookless to be Principal Deputy Administrator at the National Nuclear Security Administration.


9 a.m. 1030 15th St. NW. The Evolving Iranian Strategy in Syria: A Looming Conflict with Israel.

12 noon. 1000 Massachusetts Ave. NW. Book Discussion of The Hell of Good Intentions: America’s Foreign Policy Elite and the Decline of U.S. Primacy with Author  Stephen Walt.

3 p.m. Russell 222. Subcommittee Hearing on the Implications of China’s Presence and Investment in Africa.

5:30 p.m. 1616 Rhode Island Ave. NW. Free Speech and National Security.


8:30 a.m. 929 Long Bridge Drive, Arlington, Va. AIA/NDIA Technical Data Rights Forum.

9 a.m. 1030 15th St. N.W. Championing the Frontlines of Freedom: Erasing the “Grey Zone.”

9 a.m. 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W. How will values shape U.S.-China competition?

Noon. 1030 15th St. N.W. The Role of Advanced Energy in National Security and a Resilient Grid.

“He is going to be around for 40 or 50 years, he’s a young guy, and if you let him get away with killing journalists in his 30s it’s only going to get worse.”
Sen. Bob Corker on Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman