Marines Buy 2 XQ-58A Valkyrie Drones for ‘Collaborative Killer’ Concept Testing

The Marine Corps used a new Pentagon program designed to quickly prototype systems for conflict in the Pacific to buy two unmanned aerial vehicles last month for $15.5 million, a service official told USNI News on Tuesday. The contract to Kratos for the pair of XQ-58A Valkyrie “loyal wingman” drones was bought through the Naval Air […]

The Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie is an experimental stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle designed and built by Kratos. US Air Force Photo

The Marine Corps used a new Pentagon program designed to quickly prototype systems for conflict in the Pacific to buy two unmanned aerial vehicles last month for $15.5 million, a service official told USNI News on Tuesday.

The contract to Kratos for the pair of XQ-58A Valkyrie “loyal wingman” drones was bought through the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division under the Department of Defense Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve (RDER) and wasn’t part of the Navy’s ongoing Next Generation Air Dominance program, Marine Maj. Jay Hernandez told USNI News.

“This purchase is part of ongoing USMC efforts to look at future autonomous collaborative platforms and is not tied to the Next Generation Air Dominance Program, or any other Air Force or Navy programs. The base contract was awarded primarily for the baseline aircraft—a decision for future modifications and operations has not been made as these aircraft are for experimental use,” he said.
“This project officially started with the award of the base contract and will develop into experimentation in [Fiscal Year] 24.”

The Pentagon awarded the contract on Dec. 30, and the initial announcement did not say the purchase was for the Marine RDER effort. Naval Air Systems Command did not respond to a request for comment when asked by USNI News in December. Breaking Defense first reported the contract’s connection to the Marines on Monday.

The UASs should have “sensor and weapon system payloads to accomplish the penetrating affordable autonomous collaborative killer” mission, according to the DoD announcement.

The two drones are part of the RDER experimentation program that allows services to military items to quickly test concepts with systems already in use in other arenas with an emphasis on the needs of commands in the Indo-Pacific.

2018 Kratos data sheet on the XQ-58 UAVs

“RDER is really a whole of [Defense Department] effort that’s focused on the exploitation of advanced technologies in order to provide capabilities that address some of our most pressing or difficult military challenges,” Air Force Col. Corey Beaverson said at the National Defense Industrial Association’s Future Force 2022 conference in September, reported National Defense Magazine.
“The focus is going to be on long-range kill chains, long-range fires, command and control capabilities: how do we operate in a contested logistics environment? How do we defend forward fixed bases?”

The Valkyries were developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory to be a high-speed, low-cost aircraft developed for the AFRL’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) project.

“The LCAAT portfolio was established to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft and provide an unmanned escort or wingman aircraft alongside a crewed fighter aircraft in combat,” according to Kratos.

The XQ-58As can operate without a runway and carry a variety of payloads from weapons to communication relays at a range of about 3,000 nautical miles with a cruising speed of about 550 miles per hour, according to a 2018 datasheet from Kratos. In addition to launching from land, Kratos developed a version of the UAV that can be moved in a standard shipping container.

Both the Air Force and Marines are developing expeditionary aviation concepts for their respective services. The Air Force is refining its Agile Combat Employment – a concept that disperses combat air power across several expeditionary bases. The Marines have also experimented with the Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) that will be key to how it says it will fight in the island campaigns in modern conflict. The Marines have tested assembling remote airfields to support F-35s in austere locations.

The Marines are also experimenting with other unmanned vehicles like the MQ-9 Reaper UAV, unmanned ground vehicles and is developing its own large, unmanned surface vessel program.

Navy Buys 2 ‘Loyal Wingman’ XQ-58A Valkyrie Drones for $15.5M

The Navy is buying two stealth unmanned aerial systems – originally developed for the Air Force – that could operate with a manned fighter, as the service pursues the manned-unmanned teaming concept officials say is central to the future of naval aviation. The service issued a $15.5 million contract to Kratos for the XQ-58A Valkyrie […]

An XQ-58A Valkyrie low-cost unmanned aerial vehicle launches at the U.S. Army Yuma Proving Ground, Ariz., Dec. 9, 2020. US Air Force Photo

The Navy is buying two stealth unmanned aerial systems – originally developed for the Air Force – that could operate with a manned fighter, as the service pursues the manned-unmanned teaming concept officials say is central to the future of naval aviation.

The service issued a $15.5 million contract to Kratos for the XQ-58A Valkyrie unmanned aerial system, according to a Dec. 30 Defense Department contract announcement.

The UASs should have “sensor and weapon system payloads to accomplish the penetrating affordable autonomous collaborative killer” mission, according to the DoD announcement.

The Navy is currently developing its sixth-generation Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, which officials have said will be a family of manned and unmanned systems, with a manned fighter currently known as F/A-XX operating as the centerpiece. The Navy plans to employ the systems in what it calls a manned-unmanned teaming concept.

Naval Air Systems Command did not immediately respond to USNI News when asked for more information about the XQ-58A contract and how it fits in with NGAD development.

Navy officials have provided few details about NGAD’s development and have kept the research and development costs classified for the last three budget cycles.

“The NGAD [family of systems] will replace the F/A-18E/F Block II aircraft as they begin to reach end of service life in the 2030s and leverage Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) in order to provide increased lethality and survivability,” according to joint testimony that Department of Navy acquisition officials gave to Congress earlier this year. “F/A-XX is the strike fighter component of the NGAD FoS that will be the ‘Quarterback’ of the MUM-T concept, directing multiple tactical platforms at the leading edge of the battlespace.”

A U.S. Air Force test squadron already has XQ-58A aircraft to experiment with and the service could pursue a program that would employ UASs with manned fighters, Breaking Defense reported in November. The “loyal wingman” is key to the development of the Air Force’s next-generation fighter. The idea is that the UAS would act as an adjunct payload capability to the manned fighters.

“The Kratos XQ-58 Valkyrie is an experimental stealthy unmanned combat aerial vehicle designed and built by Kratos for the United States Air Force Low-Cost Attritable Strike Demonstrator program, under the USAF Research Laboratory’s Low-Cost Attritable Aircraft Technology (LCAAT) project portfolio,” according to the KRATOS website.
“The LCAAT portfolio was established to break the escalating cost trajectory of tactically relevant aircraft and provide an unmanned escort or wingman aircraft alongside a crewed fighter aircraft in combat.”

In addition to operating from land, Kratos has developed a version of the drone that can be transported in a standard shipping container.

Report to Congress on Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program

The following is the June 23, 2022 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program. From the report According to the Air Force, the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program is intended to develop “a portfolio of technologies enabling air superiority.” The Air Force intends for NGAD to replace the F-22 fighter […]

The following is the June 23, 2022 Congressional Research Service In Focus report, Air Force Next-Generation Air Dominance Program.

From the report

According to the Air Force, the Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program is intended to develop “a portfolio of technologies enabling air superiority.” The Air Force intends for NGAD to replace the F-22 fighter jet beginning in 2030, possibly including a combination of crewed and uncrewed aircraft, with other systems and sensors. NGAD began as a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency project. Since 2015, Congress has appropriated approximately $4.2 billion for NGAD.

NGAD is a classified aircraft development program, but the Air Force has released a few details. On September 15, 2020, then-U.S. Air Force acquisition executive Dr. Will Roper announced that the Air Force had flown a full-scale flight demonstrator as part of the NGAD program. Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall announced on June 1, 2022 that NGAD program technologies have matured enough to allow the program to move to the engineering, manufacture, and design phase of development.

Is the Goal of NGAD a New Fighter? 

While a stated aim of the NGAD program is to replace the F-22 fighter jet, the aircraft that come out of the NGAD program may or may not look like a traditional fighter. The Air Force is developing technologies involved in NGAD to provide air dominance. Part of the program’s goal is to determine how to achieve that end, independent of traditional U.S. military approaches to air dominance. NGAD could take the form of a single aircraft and/or a number of complementary systems—manned, unmanned, optionally manned, cyber, electronic—forms that would not resemble the traditional “fighter.”

For example, a larger aircraft the size of a B-21 may not maneuver like a fighter. But that large an aircraft carrying a directed energy weapon, with multiple engines making substantial electrical power for that weapon, could ensure that no enemy flies in a large amount of airspace. That would achieve air dominance. There appears to be little reason to assume that NGAD is going to yield a plane the size that one person sits in, and that goes out and dogfights kinetically, trying to outturn another plane—or that sensors and weapons have to be on the same aircraft.

Download the document here.

Navy’s F/A-XX Fighter Will be the ‘Quarterback’ for a Team of Unmanned Aircraft

The future F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter will operate as the Navy’s “quarterback” for manned and unmanned teaming in future carrier operations, according to the service. Navy officials described the vision for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, meant to expand the range for carrier-based operations, in written testimony to Congress this week. “The NGAD [family […]

An F/A-18F Super Hornet, attached to the ‘Red Rippers’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 11, lands on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75), Jan. 7, 2022. US Navy Photo

The future F/A-XX sixth-generation fighter will operate as the Navy’s “quarterback” for manned and unmanned teaming in future carrier operations, according to the service.

Navy officials described the vision for the Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) program, meant to expand the range for carrier-based operations, in written testimony to Congress this week.

“The NGAD [family of systems] will replace the F/A-18E/F Block II aircraft as they begin to reach end of service life in the 2030s and leverage Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) in order to provide increased lethality and survivability,” reads joint testimony from Department of Navy acquisition officials. “F/A-XX is the strike fighter component of the NGAD FoS that will be the ‘Quarterback’ of the MUM-T concept, directing multiple tactical platforms at the leading edge of the battlespace.”

Jay Stefany, who is currently performing the duties of the assistant secretary of the Navy for research, development and acquisition, deputy chief of naval operations for warfighting requirements and capabilities (OPNAV N9) Vice Adm. Scott Conn, and Marine Corps deputy commandant for combat development and integration Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl submitted the written testimony earlier this week to the Senate Armed Services seapower subcommittee.

According to their testimony, the Navy initiated the “concept refinement” stage for F/A-XX, which is expected to be a manned fighter, in Fiscal Year 2021. That phase is progressing on time, the officials told Congress.

Stefany, along with the chief of naval operation’s air warfare director (OPNAV N98) Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle and Marine Corps deputy commandant for Aviation Lt. Gen. Mark Wise submitted similar testimony about NGAD this week in a joint statement to the House Armed Services tactical air and land force subcommittee.

The idea for NGAD is that a family of manned and unmanned systems will work together, centered around F/A-XX, which is expected to be a manned fighter.

“These manned and unmanned aircraft plus attritable assets will be employed across domains to enable integrated kinetic and non-kinetic fires at tactically relevant ranges,” the Navy’s 2030-2035 aviation vision document from last year reads. “As autonomy and [machine learning] efforts mature, the appropriate mix of F/A-XX, manned and unmanned platforms will be evaluated to ensure the most lethal and affordable [carrier air wing] possible.”

The F/A-XX platform will ultimately succeed the F/A-18E/F Super Hornets as they reach the end of their service lives in the 2030s.

“Its specific capabilities and technologies are under development, however analysis shows it must have longer range and greater speed, incorporate passive and active sensor technology, and possess the capability to employ the longer-range weapons programmed for the future,” the aviation vision says of F/A-XX. “As the Super Hornets are retired from service, a combination of F-35C and F/A-XX will provide Navy tactical fighter aircraft capability and capacity within the CVW.”

The effective combat radius of the carrier air wing has contracted since the F-14 Tomcat interceptor left the inventory in the early 2000s. Due to the Pentagon’s strategy focused on the Indo-Pacific and the need to counter China in a potential conflict, the Navy has had to explore ways to extend the range of carrier operations due to the vastness of the region. The combat radius will nominally increase with the introduction of the MQ-25A Stingray unmanned carrier tanker. The first MQ-25As will deploy on USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-73) in 2026.

While the Navy is currently putting more research and development dollars into the NGAD program, the service has kept those costs classified for three consecutive budget cycles. During the March rollout of the FY 2023 budget proposal, Navy deputy assistant secretary for budget Rear Adm. John Gumbleton acknowledge that the research and development spending for NGAD increase “somewhat dramatically” across the Pentagon’s five-year spending plan.

Navy officials have repeatedly cited classification when asked for details about the program, but the service has not said why the research and development costs for NGAD are classified.

The Air Force is developing a separate Next Generation Air Dominance program. While the Navy and Air Force efforts are different programs, the concepts are similar in that a manned fighter would operate with unmanned aircraft.

Navy Keeps Next-Generation Fighter Research Costs Classified For Third Consecutive Budget Cycle

THE PENTAGON – The Navy is spending more money to develop its sixth-generation fighter program but is keeping the costs classified for the third year in a row, the service said on Monday. For the last three budget cycles, the Navy has classified the research and development dollars it’s spending on Next Generation Air Dominance […]

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the ‘Stingers’ of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 113, recovers on the flight deck aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) on Sept. 23, 2021. US Navy Photo

THE PENTAGON – The Navy is spending more money to develop its sixth-generation fighter program but is keeping the costs classified for the third year in a row, the service said on Monday.

For the last three budget cycles, the Navy has classified the research and development dollars it’s spending on Next Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) and service officials have provided few details about the program due to the classification. The Fiscal Year 2023 proposal, unveiled Monday, lists NGAD under the aircraft section of its research and development efforts without dollar figures.

“Although NGAD is a classified line, investments do go up over the [Future Years Defense Program] somewhat dramatically for NGAD,” Rear Adm. John Gumbleton, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for budget, told reporters during a Monday briefing. Gumbleton was referring to the Pentagon’s five-year budget outlook.

Asked how the Navy justifies the classification and how the service will make the case to the taxpayer that it needs the money despite not revealing the specific cost, Gumbleton said Capitol Hill is looped in on the numbers.

“Our folks on the Hill who monitor this program and approve those budgets are read into these programs and they have full access to understand what we’re requesting and what they cost,” he said.

Pressed on why the program is classified, Gumbleton referred USNI News to the NGAD program manager.

Naval Air Systems Command, where the NGAD program office resides, did not immediately respond to a list of questions from USNI News.

The Navy last disclosed spending lines for NGAD in its FY 2020 budget books, asking for approximately $20.7 million in research and development dollars for the initiative at the time. That year’s budget books projected dollar figures throughout the FYDP, with the amount increasing each fiscal year. At the time, the Navy projected it would ask for $55.05 million in FY 2021, $111.26 in FY 2022, $255.59 in FY 2023, and $371.9 million in FY 2024 for NGAD.

While Navy officials have said little about the NGAD program, the service has acknowledged it will be a family of both manned and unmanned systems centered around a manned fighter, or F/A-XX.

“Bottom line is we see a threat out there that requires capabilities that we do not currently posses, from signature and speed and range capabilities. And so the sixth-generation program is built to solve those problems,” Rear Adm. Andrew Loiselle, who leads the chief of naval operation’s air warfare directorate (OPNAV N98), told USNI News in a December interview.

Loiselle described NGAD as a “highly classified” program, but could not say how long it would be classified.

“I can’t really answer that question. I don’t have a number,” he said at the time. “I would anticipate it’s going to be highly classified for quite some time.”

The Pentagon has kept parts of other fighter programs – like the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter – classified, but it’s rare to classify spending lines.The Air Force’s F-117 Nighthawk program – developed in the 1970s – and the early effort for the Navy’s A-12 Avenger II attack aircraft, which was canceled in the 1990s, were both classified.

The Navy needs NGAD to come online in the 2030s so the family of systems can replace the earliest F/A-18E/F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers when they are set to reach the end of their service lives.

In addition to NGAD, the Navy is also developing its next-generation destroyer, or DDG(X), to succeed the Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and its next-generation attack submarine, or SSN(X), to succeed the Virginia-class boats. The service is seeking $196 million in research and development funding for DDG(X) in FY 2023 and $237 million for SSN(X).

Cyber Breaches of Maritime Transportation System Caused by Stovepiped Software Designs, Expert Says

Cyber attacks on the global maritime transportation system – like last month’s breach at the port of Houston – should not be considered a digital Pearl Harbor surprise, a leading security expert said last week. Gary Kessler, of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative, pointed to a known problem of stovepiped software designs as a reason for […]

An MH-65 Dolphin helicopter crew based out of Air Station Kodiak and deployed aboard Cutter Alex Haley, prepares for a helicopter in-flight refueling at sea evolution with the cutter crew during a search and rescue case near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, Wednesday, Dec. 30, 2020. US Coast Guard Photo

Cyber attacks on the global maritime transportation system – like last month’s breach at the port of Houston – should not be considered a digital Pearl Harbor surprise, a leading security expert said last week.

Gary Kessler, of the Cyber Statecraft Initiative, pointed to a known problem of stovepiped software designs as a reason for why these types of breaches happen.

Speaking at the online Atlantic Council forum last week, Kessler asked rhetorically “why is the hacker community running circles around the software engineering community” in these breaches. He laid the responsibility on software engineers “not thinking through their designs” and how one design will work with others on extended networks.

Other panelists added that senior executives also need to be actively involved in seeing these systems as critically important to profitability, not just as routine accounting functions or personnel management.

Those networks extend to basic infrastructure – from telecommunications to electrical power to rail and road transportation on land. All are vulnerable to major security ransomware strikes like May’s attack on the major energy distribution system for the East Coast, Colonial Pipeline.

Complicating matters in the maritime transportation system in protecting its thousands of networks are “too few professional mariners” and “too few cyber professionals.”

Sean Kline, director of maritime affairs at the Chamber of Shipping of America, added that as an American mariner “you’re training constantly” to retain certification and advance. He noted companies also require more training to meet their specific requirements and those requirements differ between firms.

“Giving them a 20-minute video” on cyber security may check off a requirement box, but “is not addressing the core of the problem,” which can be found often in a business’ digital practices ashore.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. John Maugher, assistant commandant for prevention policy, said the service was “very sensitive [to] how much training we put on them [mariners]” ashore and afloat. He added the Coast Guard is stressing to maritime companies the risks they are accepting in having poorly designed software.

The idea is “getting [senior executives] to the understanding” that by accepting this situation as is, the decision “affects the bottom line.” He said particular attention must be paid to systems involving the ship’s stability, monitoring of cargo climate controls and navigation.

“We have to realize these attacks are going to happen” and there needs to be built in resilience and procedures and practices to restore system.

Maugher said the Coast Guard has made “cyber security an operational imperative” for its own networks and also extended that knowledge and experience into the private sector through its cyber protection teams.

He added those teams work with businesses not only in developing plans to improve cyber security but more importantly are “assessing … how well it is doing” in real-time.

Cyber security “is not a back office, IT function,” Maugher said. Cyber is also a national security issue, since 25 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product moves through the maritime transportation system.

Josie Long, cyber security consultant at MITRE corporation, said her work with industry includes identifying what functions are vital to their operations and must be hardened. What also is needed is business leaders recognizing across the private sector that it is to their benefit to have cross-pollination of best practices.

In keynote remarks at the forum, Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) said “we have to re-think our ideas of international conflict” when dealing with cyber actors by nation states, terrorists or criminals. He said “85 percent of the target space is in the private sector.”

King called for governments to do more “red-teaming” of problems jointly at all levels and with the private sector, including information sharing of what works and acknowledging breaches.

All sectors need to “realize [cyber strategy and plans] must constantly be updated,” he said.

The senator noted the disruption in international trade when operators lost control of the 20,000-ton Ever Given that closed the Suez Canal for a week in March and its impact on global economies during the pandemic.

With autonomous vessels on the horizon and a growing use of unmanned systems, the risks are growing.

“You’re going to have to have some remote connection” to them for a host of functions from navigation onward and that connection would be vulnerable “to bad actors,” Kessler said.

Kline said members of the chamber have “just ID’d what was missing” in terms of cyber security for autonomous vessels, “but not what to do.”

He doubted whether ocean-going merchant vessels in the immediate future would be truly autonomous. But these vessels “might be drastically different than the 20ish we have aboard now.”

Wittman: India Presents ‘Opportunity’ for Partnership to Counter China

As the United States seeks to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, it should look to partner with countries in the region like India, according to a long-time House Armed Services Committee lawmaker. Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), who serves as the ranking member of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee, on Tuesday described India as […]

Australian, Indian and U.S. ships sail past each other as fixed-wing aircraft from the India and U.S. navies conduct a flyover during Malabar 2020 on Nov. 20, 2020. US Navy Photo

As the United States seeks to counter China in the Indo-Pacific, it should look to partner with countries in the region like India, according to a long-time House Armed Services Committee lawmaker.

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.), who serves as the ranking member of the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee, on Tuesday described India as a likely regional partner.

“I think there’s great opportunity with the nation of India to continue to grow that relationship. I’ve been there to visit several times with their military leaders and they are very interested because of what China’s doing with the one Belt one road – which essentially surrounds India,” Wittman told the American Society of Naval Engineers’ virtual conference.

The Virginia congressman was referring to China’s Belt and Road Initiative focused on infrastructure.

“India feels threatened with that, as they should – looks to the United States to partner even more,” Wittman added. “The Indian government is recapitalizing their fleet of ships, building 45 new ships, which is a pretty big task. We need to do more of the work with them.”

Wittman said partnerships in the Indo-Pacific will be crucial because the United States cannot afford to counter China by itself because the current environment includes several threats, unlike the Cold War era.

“Those Asian nations though are trying to butter their bread on both sides. So they’re growing relationships with China. We need to be up to the task to make sure that we grow our relationships both strategically and economically with nations in the region,” he said. “And because we’re not going to be able to do it by ourselves. We will not have the ability just with economic resources that we have here at home to do all of this by ourselves.”

Wittman argued that the Pentagon, industry and Congress must work to guarantee that the U.S. gets more “capability and capacity” out of each dollar than China or Russia get out of their respective currencies.

“Because we are not going to have unlimited resources going forward. So we have to get the most out of our resources and we have to get more out of our resources than the Chinese do. And we have to do things differently,” Wittman said.
“It can’t all be about defensive systems. It can’t be all about offensive systems. It has to be about how do we do things thoughtfully to impose risks upon the Chinese, to impose uncertainty upon the Chinese, to make sure that they have to expend more of their dollars to counter that uncertainty, which helps us in being able to maintain and I hope being able to outpace them.”

One avenue for changing its approach to capability is in unmanned platforms, Wittman said.

“We have to look at systems and say, ‘it doesn’t make sense to create a million-dollar system to take out a $50,000 threat,'” he added.

But Wittman argued that it’s important the Navy take the correct approach as it pursues new unmanned ships, platforms officials say would be critical in the vast waters of the Indo-Pacific.

The Trump administration focused on the threat from China and unveiled a National Defense Strategy that marked a shift in policy from concentrating on counter-terrorism operations in the Middle East to preparing for conflict with China and Russia.

While in its early days, the Biden administration appears to be adopting a similar approach to China. White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki recently emphasized “strategic patience” in regard to China and said the administration hopes to include input from Democrat and Republican lawmakers and U.S. allies in any strategy it pursues.

“I think our approach to China remains what it has been since – for the last months, if not longer. We’re in a serious competition with China. Strategic competition with China is a defining feature of the 21st century,” Psaki told reporters in a Monday press briefing.

“China is engaged in conduct that – it hurts American workers, blunts our technological edge, and threatens our alliances and our influence in international organizations,” she continued. “What we’ve seen over the last few years is that China is growing more authoritarian at home and more assertive abroad. And Beijing is now challenging our security, prosperity, and values in significant ways that require a new U.S. approach.”

Antony Blinken, whom the Senate confirmed on Tuesday to serve as Biden’s secretary of state, told lawmakers he would maintain the United States’ commitment to guaranteeing that Taiwan has its own defense capability.

“[L]et me just say that I also believe that President Trump was right in taking a tougher approach to China,” Blinken told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last week. “I disagreed very much with the way that he went about it in a number of areas, but the basic principle was the right one, and I think that’s actually helpful to our foreign policy.”