Sea, air and land updates
17 Nov 2015| and


Sea State

Much like the plot of a knock-off Bond movie, Russia made global headlines last week when a state-run TV station ‘accidentally’ revealed concept designs for a top secret nuclear torpedo. The footage was captured during a meeting on defence issues between President Putin and military commanders in Sochi, after which a spokesperson for the Kremlin said that ‘preventive measures’ would be taken in the future to avoid such leaks. Given that the weapon doesn’t exist (yet?) there’s speculation that the leak was a deliberate attempt to intimidate the West. Russia’s greatest naval asset remains their team of armed seals, at least until the ‘sharks with laser beams attached to their heads’ arrive next year.

Could closer cooperation between US and Chinese coastguards enhance maritime security and encourage more positive relations between the two powers? Lyle G. Goldstein argues in The National Interest that cooperative bilateral activities between the two coastguards on issues such as environmental protection could help establish a more positive tone between the US and China, and prevent relations being framed in a zero-sum framework.

Meanwhile, the US and South Korea (ROK) have concluded this year’s iteration of Exercise Clear Horizon, an annual sea-mine clearing exercise. The exercise involved US and ROK naval units practicing clearing shipping routes and testing interoperability.

Flight Path

After the tragic attacks in Paris last Friday, France has dramatically increased its airstrike campaign against ISIS in Syria. French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius confirmed that on Sunday evening, French airstrikes delivered 20 bombs in Raqqa, the self-proclaimed capital of the Islamic State caliphate. The strikes obliterated a command centre, a recruitment centre, an ammunition storage depot and a training camp. Read more about the tactical side of the airstrikes here and what the escalation of French military involvement will mean for ISIS. Bonus read: Rodger Shanahan takes a broad look at what the Paris attacks will mean for ISIS and the war in Syria.

Last Thursday the Pentagon confirmed two US B-52 bombers had flown near disputed islands in the South China Sea. The two bombers were conducting a routine flight from Guam in international airspace when they were contacted by Chinese air controllers who warned them to leave the area. Ankit Panda in The Diplomat takes a look at the interaction here.

Lockheed Martin has been pitching the C-130 multi-mission aircraft to the UK as a cheap alternative to Boeing’s expensive P-8 Poseidon for some time now. The UK has been considering buying the Poseidons to beef up their maritime surveillance capabilities after the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review scrapped plans to buy BAE’s Nimrod MRA4 jets. With the release of the next Strategic and Defence Security Review imminent, Defense News takes a look at Lockheed’s pitch against Boeing.

Rapid Fire

The Australian Army has released the 2015 version of its Research and Development Plan, forecasting potential research avenues for the Army in the near and long term. The plan comprises a list of areas of investigation with varying degrees of immediacy. Forecasted projects include the test and evaluation of new helicopters, possible wearable technologies for soldiers, and studying the potential employment of autonomous systems.

On the subject of future Army technologies, CNAS’ Paul Scharre examines recent developments in smart weapons for infantry over on War on the Rocks. Scharre references the TrackingPoint precision-guided firearm covered on Rapid Fire last week, but also makes mention of the Switchblade infantry-deployed drone, DARPA’s precision-guided EXACTO .50 cal bullet and more.

ICYMI, Australia has exported the Bushmaster armoured vehicle to Jamaica. Thales Australia will be shipping three of the 4×4 personnel carriers to the Caribbean island by the end of November, and a final shipment is due in January.