The five-domains update

Sea state

China’s next-generation frigate, the Type 054B, is under construction at shipyards in Shanghai and Guangzhou, as confirmed by images posted online by Chinese military enthusiasts. The ship’s predecessor, the Type 054A, is still in service, but the new version is a complete redesign and will be larger and faster. Although specific armaments are yet to be confirmed, it is expected to feature a vertical missile-launch system and a new double-sided phased-array radar system. The Type 054B will enhance China’s anti-submarine-warfare capabilities and add heft to its new generation of aircraft carrier strike groups.

South Korean shipbuilding company Hanwha Ocean has won a contract to construct the final two Ulsan-class frigates for the country’s navy. The new warships will replace some of the navy’s ageing frigates and patrol combat corvettes to bolster naval readiness. They will be armed with a Mark 45 five-inch main gun, anti-ship missiles and a new close-in weapon system powered by Rolls-Royce gas turbine engines. The first delivery is scheduled for 2024, with production continuing until 2027.

Flight path

North Korea has conducted its second test-firing of its Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile, the core weapon in its nuclear strike force. The solid-fuelled ICBM reached an altitude of 6,648 kilometres and landed in the sea about 250 kilometres west of northern Japan’s Okushiri island. Its 74-minute flight time showed marginal improvement over the test conducted in April. The launch comes after Pyongyang threatened to shoot down US military reconnaissance aircraft engaging in what it called ‘hostile espionage’ activities. It was swiftly condemned by the US, Japan and South Korea.

The White House has announced that it will work with Congress to transfer 40 new F-16 fighter jets and nearly 80 modernisation kits to Turkey. The controversial deal was reached hours after Ankara agreed to back Sweden’s bid for membership of NATO. It follows weeks of strong opposition from US senators on both sides of the aisle. The sale will still have to pass through a 15-day informal review process during which lawmakers may object to the transfer, including on human-rights grounds.

Rapid fire

The Australian Army’s 7th Brigade last week wrapped up Exercise Diamond Strike 23 with Tonga, France, Fiji, the US and Japan. The drills focused on foundation warfighting and combined-arms training and integrated different teams, capabilities and technologies from the participating military forces. It was also a chance for the ADF and partners to prepare for Exercise Talisman Sabre, which will kick off this weekend with more than 30,000 military personnel from 13 nations.

A Ukrainian M-55S tank has reportedly been destroyed by the Russian army near Kreminna in the Luhansk region of Ukraine. A video circulated on Twitter depicts the tank’s destruction with what appears to be a Kransopol 152-millimetre guided projectile. Twenty-eight M-55Ss were donated by Slovenia in 2022 to assist Ukraine in its fight against the Russian invasion, and this is the first report of one being lost.

Final frontier

The Indian Space Research Organization successfully launched its Chandrayaan-3 mission, ushering in what Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi says is ‘a new chapter in India’s space odyssey’. The mission is India’s bid to become only the fourth country to execute a controlled moon landing, after the US, Russia and China. The aim is to conduct a soft landing near the moon’s unexplored south pole and collect data to study the moon’s composition. This is India’s second attempt at conducting a soft landing, after the failure of Chandrayaan-2 in 2019.

US Space Force Guardians, Colombian Air Force Guardians and Ecuadorian Air Force members formed a coalition space team for Operation Thundergun Express, a 21-day space deployment exercise. The team executed the first defensive space control operation in the history of US Southern Command, highlighting the importance of ‘agile combat employment operations’ in the space domain. The exercise included building mobile space detection systems and detecting electromagnetic interference aimed at disrupting a commercial satellite. The move reflects the US Southern Command’s goal of boosting its military space engagement with the Americas.

Wired watchtower

The Israeli military has started using a new artificial-intelligence system to select targets for airstrikes and manage logistics amid ongoing tensions with Palestinian militants, Lebanon and Iran. According to Israeli officials, the military now uses AI to crunch vast amounts of data to calculate munition loads and identify thousands of potential targets for its aircraft and drones. This modern way of war incorporates lessons learned during the May 2021 conflict in Gaza. It was during that so-called AI war that the Israeli army first used the technology to rapidly gather intelligence on Palestinian resistance fighters.

The US has released its implementation plan setting out a roadmap for making America more cyber resilient. The plan allocates a greater share of the burden for mitigating cyber risk to the largest and most capable public agencies and private entities. Its five objectives are to defend critical infrastructure, disrupt threat actors, shape market forces, promote cybersecurity standards and coordinate international policy.