The five-domains update

Sea state

HMAS Adelaide has docked in Malaysia, where it will remain until 5 October, as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 Joint Task Group. The Adelaide left Jakarta on 26 September and headed to Port Klang on the Strait of Malacca. Exercises will be held with Malaysian personnel on Wednesday. HMAS Darwin, the fleet’s training ship, on which junior officers are gaining on-the-job experience on a warship at sea, will join the Adelaide. Trainees will learn ‘basic ship manoeuvring, navigation and situational awareness’.

Australian submarine HMAS Dechaineux has taken part in a trilateral submarine competition with Japanese and American counterparts. The competition, held to the south of Japan, ‘aims to further the anti-submarine warfare integration of the three navies’. The winning submarine will be awarded the Japanese Battle Efficiency Award.

The Chinese flotilla that took part in joint Chinese–Russian exercises in the Baltic Sea has returned to China. The Hefei, the Yuncheng and the Luomahu arrived at the southern Chinese city of Sanya last Monday after a 100-day global voyage.

Flight path

On Wednesday, suicide bombers attacked Kabul airport, just hours after US Defense Secretary James Mattis landed for a surprise visit to Afghanistan. Both the Taliban and ISIS have claimed responsibility for the attack, which used at least 29 rocket grenades and prompted retaliation from the US. The responding US air strike suffered a missile malfunction that resulted in an unknown number of civilian casualties.

In a show of international collaboration, a French C-135FR provided mid-air refuelling for a US B-52 Stratofortress that was in Europe for bomber assurance and deterrence operations. Footage of the manoeuvre can be seen here. While there have been a few incidents of foreign air forces being called upon for refuelling, the task is usually given to the US Air Force’s KC-135s or KC-10s.

Rapid fire

The US will install Trophy, an anti-projectile system developed in Israel, on some of its tanks. The system includes a radar to detect anti-tank projectiles and a launcher that fires ‘a burst of metal pellets’ designed to destroy the oncoming projectile well away from the vehicle. The move to install the system is in response to the widespread use of anti-tank weaponry by both state and non-state actors in the Middle East and Eastern Europe.

The US Army is pressing pause on the debated Warfighter Information Network-Tactical (WIN-T) system, which has reportedly cost $6 billion. The army plans to reallocate money from WIN-T to other programs, a backflip on the May budget proposal that has not been lost on the Tactical Air and Land Forces. The latest announcement frees up $545 million that will be spent on cyber-warfare capabilities.

Veteran Michael Webeck, who was medically discharged from the Australian Army, spoke to the ABC about his difficult experiences transitioning to the private sector. Each year more than 5,500 people are discharged from the Australian Defence Force. Their transition to civilian life can often be difficult despite ADF support. According to a report compiled by skills training and job search platform WithYouWithMe, 30% of veterans are unemployed after leaving the ADF.

Zero gravity

Elon Musk and Lockheed Martin both presented their respective Mars plans at the International Astronautical Congress in Adelaide on Friday. Musk outlined his plan in an hour-long presentation (video). Lockheed Martin elaborated on its plan to send humans to Mars in around a decade. The company hopes to achieve that goal by transporting astronauts from Earth, via the Moon, to a Mars-orbiting science lab where they will confirm the ideal place to land humans on the surface.

Countering the North Korean ICBM threat is more complicated than it seems. For one thing, missile defence physics could require interceptors to shoot down a North Korean missile over Russian territory. That could cause problems, as interceptor missiles could trigger Russia’s early warning systems.

Atlanta-based musical artist B.o.B., who is best known as half of the six-time Grammy award–winning rap group Outkast, has turned his attention to space. After B.o.B. revealed his belief that the earth is flat in a series of tweets last year, much of the scientific community mocked him relentlessly. Neil deGrasse Tyson even released a diss track with his nephew on the subject. B.o.B. has now decided to conduct his own research on the matter, asking for $1 million on GoFundMe to fund a project that aims to send weather balloons and satellites into space to ‘find the [earth’s] curve’.

Wired watchtower

As part of its inquiry into Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, the US Senate Intelligence Committee heard from Twitter about its response to information operations. Twitter’s submission was criticised by the chair of the committee as ‘inadequate’. On the other hand, Twitter has committed to turning over account information to the committee, and gone into greater detail about the scale of the problem it’s facing and the long road ahead. Facebook and Google have been invited to a public hearing before the committee on 1 November.

In a spot of good news, Twitter worked to stop information operations during the course of the recent German elections, reportedly removing tens of thousands of fake accounts, with surprising success. While that’s heartening, a worrying picture about the extent of the misinformation problem appeared over the course of the week, from gaming Facebook to silence Ukrainian activists, to setting up a fake Muslim American organisation, to exploiting more contemporary cleavages such as the NFL anthem controversy, and finally targeting organisations like think tanks and civil society groups such as the new Committee to Investigate Russia. The operations have been described as demonstrating a ‘deep understanding of social divides in American society’.