Sea, air and land updates

HMAS Canberra's Landing Craft transiting the waters of Twofold Bay, NSW enroute to take on ammunition.

Sea State

Australia’s second Canberra-class Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), HMAS Adelaide, is currently undergoing its final sea trials with a crew of BAE Systems employees and RAN personnel. Additionally, HMAS Canberra, the first of the LHDs, is in Townsville ahead of Sea Series amphibious exercises in Queensland’s far north.

A large Japanese delegation is visiting South Australia this week in support of Japan’s bid for Australia’s Future Submarine project, SEA 1000. The delegation is reportedly looking into negotiating local Australian industry participation in the project, should the Japanese bid be successful. French and German contenders, DCNS and TKMS, have also been touring Australia in support of their own bids for the submarine project.

David Shear, Assistant Secretary of Defense for the Asian-Pacific, has outlined the United States’ Asia–Pacific maritime security strategy in a Pentagon news conference. The strategy reiterates US desires to see territorial disputes in the South and East China Seas resolved peacefully. The US is also aiming to build greater transparency and risk reduction measures in the region to reduce the chances of ‘miscalculation’ around East Asian flashpoints.


Flight Path

Air strikes against Islamic State continue in Iraq and Syria. On 23 August, the Command Joint Task Force released a statement announcing that the US and coalition partners had launched 26 airstrikes in Iraq and Syria during a daily round of attacks that took place the previous day. The strikes reportedly hit tactical units, bunkers, vehicles, weapons and fighting positions.

Those airstrikes come on the back of Friday’s confirmation by the White House that Fadhil Ahmad al-Hayali, the second-in-command of the Islamic State, was killed during a US air strike in Iraq last Tuesday.

On the technical side of the airstrikes; while the US Marine Corps continues to work up its F-35B fleet in Initial Operating Capability , its older AV-8B Harrier jump jets have entered the fray against IS in Iraq. A Marine expeditionary unit deployed in the Persian Gulf has begun flying the Harriers from amphibious assault ship USS Essex, striking multiple targets in Anbar province.

Meanwhile on the drone front, pictures of a crashed Iranian Shahed 129 drone have been doing the rounds on social media. Defense News reports that the indigenous high-end drone was found crashed in what appears to be Iranian territory close to the Pakistan border. The Shahed reportedly has a range of 1,700 km, can stay airborne for 24 hours, and can be armed with up to eight missiles.


Rapid Fire

Tensions escalated on the Korean Peninsula on 20 August when artillery fire was exchanged across the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ). North Korea fired a 14.5mm anti-aircraft round and multiple 76.2mm shells over the border, which resulted in the evacuation of Yeoncheon, a town only 60km north of Seoul. The military provocation only adds to the list of recent tensions caused by both South Korea’s annual joint military exercise with the US and the maiming of South Korean border patrol guards by landmines suspected to have been planted by North Korea.

Questions have been raised about the explosion of a warehouse at a US military base in Japan. The Sagami Depot, positioned on the outskirts of Tokyo, exploded in the early hours of Monday morning. The facility is home to the 35thCombat Sustainment Support battalion, which manages army supply and logistics as well as chemicals and ammunition. However, it’s claimed that the warehouse didn’t actually house any hazardous materials and an investigation is underway into the cause of the event. Videos of the incident were shared on social media; check out some of the footage here.

Finally, the Russian government is developing a heavy flame-throwing system based on its TOS-1 Buratino platform of the 1980s. This new generation of thermobaric weaponry is set to be delivered in just a few years, promising more power and greater range in land combat scenarios for Russian forces. The move is part of a larger military development underway in Russia in the context of its regional tensions with Ukraine and Baltic States.