The five-domains update

Sea state

The US chief of naval operations, Admiral John Richardson, has sounded another warning about increased Russian and Chinese activity in the Atlantic Ocean. Russian submarines have been detected near crucial undersea communications cables in the North Atlantic, ringing alarm bells in NATO countries. The renewed surge in Russian undersea activity in America’s backyard signals what the navy sees as ‘the Atlantic’s return to geopolitical relevance’. In response to the Russian and Chinese activity, NATO plans to re-establish a joint force command to focus on the Atlantic. The US is reportedly reforming its second fleet and recently deployed the aircraft carrier Harry S. Truman in the region.

The US State Department has approved a tentative sale of medium-range surface-to-air Evolved Seasparrow missiles to the Mexican navy. The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency plans to equip Mexico’s new Sigma-class frigates with tactical and telemetry missiles and launchers. The estimated cost is US$41 million. This is the first time that Mexico has made such a purchase. The system will augment the Mexican navy’s defence capabilities, help it protect critical sea lanes and align it to the capabilities of other regional maritime forces.

Flight path

Canada-based simulation specialist CAE will provide a flight simulator for the Royal New Zealand Air Force’s fleet of NH90 helicopters. The contract for the CAE 700 MR series flight training device, which was launched at the Farnborough Airshow in the UK last month, includes long-term maintenance and support by CAE. The purchase means that all flight training will be conducted in New Zealand from July 2020. Currently the RNZAF uses simulators in Australia and Germany, in addition to practical flight training in NZ.

The US Air Force is still looking for new armoured helicopters to replace the old Hueys used by the security force responsible for protecting its nuclear missile silos. A decision was expected in June but has been delayed until sometime before the start of October. The UH1N Hueys used at the moment are reliable but outdated, considering the key role they play in securing the unmanned Minuteman silos, which are scattered over five states and protected by specialist security teams flown in by helicopter.

The USAF has released footage from a surveillance aircraft showing the heroic battle fought by a lone American special forces soldier in the mountains of Afghanistan. Technical Sergeant John Chapman was wounded and was thought by the other members of his patrol to have been killed during a mission against al-Qaeda in 2002. The footage reveals that he regained consciousness and mounted a single-handed attack on a machinegun position firing on an incoming American helicopter. An account of the battle and his actions can be found here. On 22 August, Sergeant Chapman will be awarded the Medal of Honor, after a review recommended his Air Force Cross medal should be upgraded.

Rapid fire

A US army program to discharge immigrant recruits has been temporarily suspended. The US Department of Defense has released a memo instructing officials to stop processing discharges of men and women who enlisted in program, which provides a path to US citizenship. Although the suspension order was to be ‘effective immediately’, it doesn’t protect many immigrant recruits who had their contracts cancelled during the first phase of the program.

Pakistan military personnel will now be trained in Russian military institutes after the two nations signed a formal cooperation agreement. Pakistani soldiers have for many years been trained in the US but financing for the program has been withdrawn by Washington. Pakistani Senator Mushahid Hussain, chair of the senate foreign affairs committee, condemned the US funding cut as ‘wrong and counterproductive’.

Russia has threatened that a NATO plan to incorporate Georgia into the alliance could lead to war. Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev said any attempt to offer The former Soviet republic NATO membership ‘could trigger a new, “horrible” conflict’. Medvedev, who was president when Georgia fought a bloody war with Russia in 2008, marked the 10th anniversary of that conflict by saying NATO’s plan for Georgian membership was ‘absolutely irresponsible’ and a ‘threat to peace’.

Zero gravity

The space race is heating up. Chinese analysts view Washington’s ‘space force’ announcement as the start of a space arms race between China and Russia and the US. While the two nations currently lack the space capabilities of the US, they are working on closing the gap. Underlying the mounting tensions is a history of failed negotiations to limit the militarisation of space.

Humanity’s first mission to ‘touch the sun’ launched successfully on Sunday. NASA’s Parker Solar Probe will fly through the sun’s outer atmosphere 6.4 million kilometres from its surface—closer than any previous mission. In the next seven years the probe will fly past the sun 24 times, with the first solar data expected in November. The endeavour will shed light on solar wind and space storms, which have the potential to knock out power grids on earth.

Turkey will launch a space agency later this year. Tasked with coordinating the Turkish space sector and political and economic relations, the agency is intended to ensure Turkey benefits from the rising global interest in space militarisation and mobility. It’s not yet clear if the deteriorating relationship between Turkey and the US will have any effect on the new agency.

Wired watchtower

The second annual Voting Village, which involves hacking into voting systems to expose flaws, took place at the Def Con hacking convention in Las Vegas on Friday. Officials from the US Department of Homeland Security were among the attendees. With the US midterm elections due in November, Def Con will publish a report next month on the vulnerabilities it’s found in voting systems. That leaves the authorities only two months to fix the flaws. Another complicating factor is the criticism from voting machine companies that the exercise itself poses a security risk and doesn’t reflect the real-world situation.

Global Affairs Canada has expressed concern about Canadian technology being used to filter internet content. The new expressions of concern were raised during an international conference on LGBTI rights in Vancouver. Earlier this year, a report by Citizen Lab revealed that 10 different countries, including the UAE, Bahrain and India, were using Netsweeper Inc’s internet filtering technology to suppress websites containing content about topics ranging from LGBTI rights to abortion. The Vancouver conference was hosted by the Equal Rights Coalition, which Canada currently co-chairs with Chile.

Note from the editors: This post was held over from yesterday due to a scheduling error.