Sea, air, land and space updates

Sea State

Last week was a big one for Australia’s Future Submarine Program, with Lockheed Martin named as the combat system integrator. The selection came alongside the signing of the first operational contract between Australia and DCNS, the French shipbuilder designing the submarines. The contract allows DCNS to coordinate with Lockheed Martin and other partners to begin development of the Shortfin Barracuda 1A. The moves come a month after concerns were raised about the security of Australia’s submarine data following a data leak involving another DCNS-built submarine, the Scorpene.

Russia announced that one of its newest Borei-class nuclear ballistic missile submarines, the Vladimir Monomakh, joined the Russian Pacific Fleet last week. The Borei-class vessels are a critical part of Russia’s naval modernisation program, which has focused on replacing aging Soviet-era submarines with more modern and capable boats. But the process hasn’t been all smooth sailing for the Russian Navy: production quality issues with the Bulava submarine-launched ballistic missile—which will be deployed on the Borei-class—have left the vessels without their main payloads.

Does the US Navy’s current rating system for its personnel perplex you? Well that’s (hopefully) about to change: the service is scuttling the 241-year-old system for a simpler one. The system, which is similar to those used by the US Army and Air Force, will see sailors referred to by their rank rather than their job title.

Flight Path

Its nuclear testing activities may be becoming a habit, but here’s something you don’t see every day in North Korea. Excitement among aviation enthusiasts has skyrocketed after the country held its first public airshow at the recently renovated Kalma Airport in Wonsan attracting over 200 foreigners and 15,000 DPRK nationals. It showcased rare North Korean combat planes, including the Mig-29 Fulcrum, Su-25 Frogfoot, Mig-21Bis Fishbed, Mi-8T Hip and Y-5s and models of US Air Force F-16 and China’s J-10 fighters. Let your eyes feast on this rare footage of North Korea’s Air Force.

Last week Australia relaxed regulations on public drone use, stirring up debate among aviation experts. This Defense News article explores similar concerns in the US, which have seen the US Federal Aviation Administration fast-track their research into drone countermeasures. The US Congress has also sought to extend new powers to the Department of Defense to defend sites against small-unmanned systems.

Boeing tweeted the reveal of the first RAAF P8-A Poseidon aircraft, which is destined for Australian turf this November. Check out its debut here—because, let’s be honest, what’s cooler than an anti-submarine warfare, maritime surveillance aircraft sporting Aussie kangaroo and albatross tail markings? (And for the historically minded, check out some of its predecessors, the Sunderland, Catalina and Neptune.)

Rapid Fire

South Korea is looking to enhance its air-defence capability with laser technology, in the face of increased aerial incursions from the DPRK. As of January 2016, the DPRK held a fleet of 300 UAVs. Five reported instances of DRPK drones crossing into South Korea in August have heightened concern about a terrorist attack from the North. Citing a ‘defence official’, reports out of Seoul suggest that South Korea is pursuing a laser air-defence system to detect, trace and hit air targets with high precision. The country is looking to develop the system locally, but failing that, it will look to purchase the technology from abroad.

While South Korea looks to new technologies to combat air threats, the US is continuing to develop its esteemed anti-tank weapon, the FGM-148 Javelin. Entered into service in 1996, the ‘Javelin’ remains among the best man-portable anti-tank systems going around. The infrared guided missile system is lightweight, providing a rapid ground-response mechanism to counter unforeseen tank invasions. With proven effectiveness in the field, including in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria, the US is now looking at a vehicle-mounted option to upgrade its Stryker vehicles. Check out the Javelin here (jump to 0:28 to skip yet another ‘O Fortuna’-paired montage).

Zero Gravity

Space entrepreneur Elon Musk has announced plans for SpaceX to colonise Mars. The Interplanetary Transport System is a two-way concept using refuelable rockets powered by deep-cryogenic methalox (the precursors of which can also be found on Mars) to send what will be the largest spaceships ever made to and from Mars. Musk’s announcement, part proclamation and part fundraiser, detailed his goal to bring the costs down to a point at which a significant proportion of Earths’ population could make the trip (a mere US$200,000). Watch Musk’s presentation here.

The US Air Force has put out a tender to SpaceX and the United Launch Alliance for its Space Test Program 3 mission. Much to Kim Jong Un’s disappointment, the USAF will launch a new Nuclear Blast Detector satellite, NASA’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration payload, and a host of other experiments.

The United Nations Office of Outer Space Affairs has purchased flights on a Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser spacecraft in 2021. The mission will offer developing countries the chance to test experiments in Low Earth Orbit and promote the peaceful use of space.