The five-domains update

Sea state

The Indonesian navy has seized one tonne of the drug ice from the Singaporean-flagged vessel Sunrise Glory. The methamphetamine was found hidden in 41 sacks buried among food supplies. The Indonesian navy says that the same type of vessel was involved in a similar-sized shipment of drugs seized in Western Australia in December. Last year’s seizure in Geraldton was valued at A$1.04 billion, making it Australia’s largest methamphetamine haul to date.

Romania has announced plans to buy new submarines, which will be locally built. The announcement was made by incoming Minister of Defence Mihai Fifor as part of a plan to rapidly modernise the Romanian military to counter ‘Russia’s extremely aggressive presence in the region’. Romania has been without a submarine since the Delfinul, a Soviet Kilo-class boat, retired in 1995. The new submarines will be similar to those used by other NATO members for increased interoperability.

The second Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Michael Monsoor, has successfully completed acceptance trials. The futuristic-looking ship is named after a Navy SEAL who was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for actions in the Iraq War. The controversial Zumwalt-class project has suffered from numerous cost overruns; the US Navy originally planned to acquire 32 ships, but the number has now been cut to only three, at a cost of US$7.5 billion per ship.

Flight path

It took the Israeli military three attempts to shoot down an Iranian drone that entered Israeli airspace from Syria on Sunday. After two missiles failed to hit the drone, it was brought down by an Apache helicopter. Following the engagement, Israel scrambled its fighter jets and launched two missions into Syria. The first targeted the command-and-control centre of the drone, an Iranian base near Palmyra called T-4. One of the jets crashed on that mission, but the two pilots managed to eject and survive. Israel hasn’t confirmed whether enemy fire brought down the F-16. Following the crash, Israel launched a second raid, hitting 12 Iranian and Syrian military targets. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu blamed Iran and Syria for the aggression. Iran and Syria denied that a drone had entered Israeli airspace.

The Royal Singapore Air Force celebrated its 50th anniversary on 6 February with a massive airshow. The aerial display featured F-15SG and F-16Cs fighter aircraft, with six never-before-seen manoeuvres for the public. Visitors were also offered a chance to fly on the Super Puma helicopter.

Following last week’s reporting of the emotional support peacock denied access to a commercial flight, some related stories have emerged. One student claims to have been forced to choose between freeing or euthanising her hamster when the airline refused to board it. She described her tears and the hamster’s fear as she opted to flush it down the toilet. The airline offered her a free flight voucher as compensation.

Rapid fire

SBS has suggested that Australia could conclude its joint training program with Iraqi Security Forces at the Taji base north of Baghdad over the next year. In one sense, the mission has been a success: Australia and New Zealand just reached the milestone of training 30,000 Iraqi troops. However, Prime Minister Jacinda Arden has announced that New Zealand’s commitment at Taji won’t be automatically renewed, addressing widespread criticism of mission creep and deliberate military expansion.

Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi has come under fire for saying that allowing women to serve in combat roles undermines Australia’s national security interests. Defence Minister Marise Payne called the senator’s views ‘disappointing and ill informed’. Australia removed its reservation under the UN Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women in relation to women’s roles in armed combat in May last year, and frontline positions in the ADF have been open to women since 2013.

Egyptian armed forces have killed 16 militants and arrested 34 others in a massive operation against the Islamic State in the Sinai Peninsula on Friday. The announcement came after claims that Egypt permitted Israel to conduct hundreds of airstrikes in the Sinai were strongly refuted by an Egyptian army spokesperson, who asserted that Egypt’s forces are the only ones fighting terrorism in the area.

Zero gravity

Satellite communication is one way that scientists hope to tackle climate change. The UK Space Agency is investing £30 million in climate-monitoring projects in developing countries such as Rwanda, Colombia, Indonesia, Tanzania, Fiji and Vanuatu. The projects focus on climate-related disasters and will involve partnerships with global satellite companies.

Elon Musk entered the history books in the space race with the successful launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket last week. The launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida was nothing short of a spectacle. The rocket payload included a Tesla sports car and the launch was livestreamed and accompanied by the music of David Bowie. For more photos of the event, see here.

But who needs a rocket when you have snow, especially Siberian snow? In an annual display of creativity, Russian prisoners in Siberia make sculptures of military weapons out of their most disposable resource, snow. This year the prisoners made a replica of a ballistic-missile launcher, which took them all of 15 days to create. Last year, their creation took the form of the Aurora naval cruiser.

Wired watchtower

The Winter Olympics has already been a display of technical might and technical mishaps. The opening ceremony in Pyeongchang set a new world record for the number of drones used in a performance. No fewer than 1,218 drones flew high in the sky to assemble the iconic Olympic rings. Despite this grand technical display, computer servers were hit by a cyberattack during the opening ceremony. The attack didn’t interrupt the proceedings, but the official website was shut down for a period of time.

Australian government websites were cryptojacked over the weekend. The malware generates profits for hackers by forcing users’ computers to mine cryptocurrency. In this case, the hackers exploited a vulnerability in a text-to-audio plugin, inserting script that caused the user’s computer to mine the cryptocurrency Monero. More than 4,000 websites are thought to have been compromised, including in the UK.

Japan is looking to beef up cybersecurity for military contractors. Guidelines drawn up by Japan’s Ministry of Defense will cover blueprints, military secrets and technological information concerning defence projects under development. Japan will likely give military contractors a grace period of several years to comply with the new regulations.