The five-domains update

Sea state

On the eve of last week’s G7 summit in Hiroshima, Japan’s Ministry of Defense reported that several Chinese warships were circling the Japanese islands. The flotilla included the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s guided-missile destroyers CNS Guiyand and CNS Qiqihar, and the intelligence ship Kaiyangxing. Their movements were monitored by Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force. These sightings came on the heels of a series of similar intrusions earlier this year. Chinese media said the ships were conducting ‘routine’ drills, though it noted Japan’s comments on Taiwan, signalling that the exercise may have been a response to those comments.

The inaugural ASEAN–India Maritime Exercise was conducted in the South China Sea this month. More than 1,800 personnel participated in this multilateral exercise involving nine ships and six aircraft. China’s aggressive actions in the South China Sea have concerned India and ASEAN states. Against this backdrop, enhancing maritime cooperation with ASEAN states aligns with both India’s ‘Act East’ policy and its agenda for ‘security and growth for all in the region’. Claims that Chinese militia vessels approached the area where the exercise was being conducted were dismissed by China.

Flight path

China’s advanced DF-27 hypersonic missile has been in service for more than four years, according to a military source. It has the range to reach significant US military installations across the Asia–Pacific region. Notably, leaked US documents provide additional evidence of the DF-27’s efficacy and describe testing by Chinese forces to guarantee its reliability and accuracy. These endeavours underscore Beijing’s intention to fortify its anti-access and area-denial strategy, with a focus on critical US bases in Japan and Guam.

The US has authorised its Western allies to provide Ukraine with modern fighter aircraft, including American-made F-16s, in a substantial enhancement of Kyiv’s military capability. President Joe Biden has declared the US commitment to train Ukrainian pilots to fly the fourth-generation jets. In response, Russia accused Western nations of exacerbating tensions. Ukraine declared the US initiative ‘historic’ and said it eagerly anticipated results.

Rapid fire

The Australian government has signed a $160 million contract with Thales Australia to deliver 78 new Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles. Australia has supplied 90 Bushmasters to Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion began in February 2022, to help protect Ukrainian troops. The new Bushmasters will be built at Thales Australia’s facility in Bendigo, Victoria, over the next 18 months.

The Australian Army’s 3rd Brigade participated in Exercise Brolga Run in late April, the brigade’s second major training exercise this year. More than 1,500 infantry, combat engineer, artillery and other soldiers and around 200 military vehicles were deployed to Townsville’s field training area to exercise against a supposed enemy for three weeks. This was an opportunity for the brigade to refine its fighting skills ahead of Exercise Talisman Sabre, which will be conducted with regional partners in July.

Final frontier

Fleet Space Technologies has signed a $6.4 million contract with Defence Space Command to support Australia’s warfighting capabilities. The ASCEND2LEO program involves the use of commercial satellites in low-earth orbit for tactical communications and data relay in denied environments. It will be delivered through a collaboration between the Defence Department’s Defence Science and Technology Group, Fleet Space Technologies, the University of South Australia, Rice Satcom and SmartSat CRC.

The UK’s Defence and Space Accelerator and its Defence Science and Technology Laboratory have launched a new defence space program. After ‘Alpha Drop’ and ‘Bravo Drop’, the Space to Innovate campaign has launched ‘Charlie Drop’ with up to £1.5 million in funding for innovative projects to develop space science and technologies. The new program will fund between three and 12 proposals over 24 months.

Wired watchtower

The Israeli Defense Ministry has unveiled a multi-year plan to ‘transform Israel into an AI powerhouse’ and improve military and intelligence operations against Iran and Iraq. A dedicated organisation for military robotics will be established to accelerate the development of ariticial-intelligence-enabled warfighting capabilities with the ability to strike in swarms, independently of combat systems. The plan is likely to have a significant impact on the future design of the Israeli Defense Force.

At the Quad leaders’ meeting on the sidelines of the G7 summit in Hiroshima, Australia, India, the US and Japan announced the development of new software security principles to promote minimum cybersecurity practices. An outcome of the Quad’s cybersecurity partnership, the joint principles are intended to help Quad governments procure and use safer and more secure software. They supplement the launch of the Quad Cyber Challenge initiative in April and build on concurrent efforts to strengthen cybersecurity awareness in Indo-Pacific communities.