Sea, air and land updates

Image courtesy of Wikimedia

Sea State

Spanish shipbuilder Navantia has been selected as the preferred tenderer for the $1.2 billion contract to construct two auxiliary oiler and replenishment vessels for RAN, Defence Minister Marise Payne confirmed last week. The ships, inspired by the Spanish Navy’s 19,800-tonne SPS Cantabria-class vessel (which RAN leased in 2013), are expected to enter into service by the early 2020s to replace HMAS Sirius and Success.

A North Korean People’s Navy submarine is missing and presumed sunk, US officials announced last Friday. The unknown class submarine was operating off the North Korean coast when it’s believed to have suffered a failure during an exercise. The incident comes amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang warning of a ‘pre-emptive retaliatory strike at enemy groups’ in retaliation to the joint US–South Korean military exercises we mentioned last week. The Center for International Maritime Security takes a look into North Korea’s naval capabilities here.

Combat dolphins are back. Russia’s Defence Ministry opened bidding last Wednesday on a 1.75 million ruble contract to deliver five dolphins to the military in the Crimean port city of Sevastopol by 1 August. According to the public contract document, the ministry is looking for two female and three male dolphins, aged between three and five years, with perfect teeth and no physical impairments. While the listing didn’t detail what the dolphins were to be used for, the mammals have previously been used by both the US and Soviet Union to detect submarines and underwater mines and to spot suspicious objects during the height of the Cold War.

Flight Path

Have you tried turning it off and on again? That’s one question an F-35 pilot probably wouldn’t expect to hear mid-flight should the fighter jet’s radar system fail.–but this may very well have happened. But in the F-35’s latest setback, Major General Jeffrey Harrigian, the Pentagon’s F-35 integration office chief, revealed last week that a software glitch has meant that the fifth-generation fighter’s radar can fail mid-flight, requiring a restart. Oops.

On top of this, the F-35 has received a healthy dose of criticism this week: War is Boring posted a lengthy article examining the US Director of Operational Test and Evaluation’s annual report on the F-35 by drawing out its major flaws. The article looks at a number of F-35 capabilities that were examined in the rosy review we looked at last week, offering a more critical take on the program. US Air Force Lieutenant General Chris Bogdan recently told Defense One that joint programs are ‘hard’ and it doesn’t seem likely that another joint, F-35-type program is currently in the works. And this article from The National Interest argues that America’s air supremacy is fading fast, and critically assesses the future role of the F-35 in filling this gap. For an Australian perspective, ASPI’s submission to the Senate Inquiry into the F-35 is now available to view here (#47).

Because pictures of aircraft are cool, Business Insider Australia has put together a neat slideshow of what they see as the 10 most game-changing aircraft of the 21st century. Did your favourite make the list?

Rapid Fire

According to US defense officials, plans are in the works that might see US troops accompany Iraqi forces in an attempt to retake Mosul from Daesh. Contributing teams of approximately 15 soldiers to work within Iraqi brigades, the US troops will assist with intelligence, tactics, fire support and logistics—with the latter being a significant shortcoming in the Iraqi Army’s operations in the vast Samarra desert.

The Myanmar military has released 46 child soldiers from its ‘Tatmadaw’ army as it slowly makes progress on fulfilling the June 2012 pact with the UN to have child-free armed forces. The military has so far released 744 underage recruits in 12 sets since 2012, but it remains unknown how many children are still serving in the Myanmar military. While the military in Myanmar remains influential after decades of rule, the country is progressively transitioning to a civilian-led democracy after the National League for Democracy defeated the military-aligned USDP in last November’s elections.

And finally, if the thought of drones pervading the sanctity of your private life and personal safety keeps you awake at night, rest easy! Soon, you will be able to take matters into your own hands with the SkyWall 100 drone-neutraliing bazooka. Created by the British company OpenWorks Engineering, the bazooka deploys a net that’s able capture a drone mid-flight and simultaneously release a parachute to bring it gently to the ground. If it all sounds a little too good to be true, see it in action in OpenWork’s promo video.