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The five-domains update

Posted By , , and on September 18, 2018 @ 12:56

Sea state

A plan for a Chinese company to take over the management of the Israeli port of Haifa is generating great concern [1] in Israel. Haifa is near the naval base that reportedly houses Israel’s nuclear-capable submarine fleet. The main worry is that the contract will affect Israel’s ability to work with the US Navy. There are also fears that China could use the civilian port to build a military facility close to the Mediterranean’s vital sea lanes. Critics are calling for a probe into Chinese infrastructure projects in the country, especially along the coast.

India’s first missile-tracking ship [2], the VC 11184, will be trialled in early October in the Bay of Bengal. The US$100 million program was kept secret until last week. The vessel [3] can carry 300 personnel and features a helicopter deck. Its launch will mark the second phase of New Delhi’s ballistic missile defence program and catapult India into an elite international club.

South Korea and Japan [4] are ramping up their defence capabilities amid stalled US efforts [5] to denuclearise North Korea. South Korea launched its first missile-capable attack submarine [6] last week. The US$700 million Dosan Ahn Chang-ho diesel-powered submarine can fire both cruise and ballistic missiles and is the first of three such vessels to be rolled out over the next five years.

Flight path

The Pentagon has delayed operational testing [7] of the F-35 joint strike fighter as it awaits a software update that will address any flaws in capabilities that still need testing, such as a system which allows for training at test ranges. The update is likely to happen in the next few months, but the delay may push back [8] the start of full-scale production.

The Indian Air Force successfully conducted mid-air refuelling [9] of the Indian-made Tejas light fighter plane, reaching another milestone towards final operational clearance. The clearance date for the indigenous fighter has been revised several times [10]; it’s now scheduled for mid-2019 [11].

Israel has denied rumours [12] that Saudi Arabia purchased an Iron Dome mobile missile-defence system, which is designed to intercept short-range rockets and shells. Reports of the purchase [13] emerged last week, but they’ve since been denied by Israeli officials and the system’s manufacturer, Rafael Advanced Defense Systems.

US Pacific Air Forces won the Air Force Defender Challenge Championships [14] in Texas on Thursday, beating other US teams and teams from Germany and the UK. The challenge involves three days of exercises to determine which team is ‘the most lethal and most ready’. More information, including the winners and teams, can be found here [15].

Rapid fire

The US Marine Corps is taking steps to combat gender-based bias [16] and address the culture of disrespect in the military. Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps, General Glenn Walters, in his quarterly address to the Pentagon’s advisory committee on women in the armed forces, admitted that five marine commanders were dismissed from their posts this year for cultural bias and prejudice. Last week, 11 troops were court-martialled [17] and received ‘bad-conduct’ discharges due to their role in the March 2017 scandal [18] involving male marines swapping [19] nude photos of female service members.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel has echoed NATO’s longstanding accusation [20] against Russia over its suspected use of hybrid warfare [21], which Moscow repeatedly denies. During a visit to Lithuania, Merkel accused Russia of conducting a deliberate cyberattack against German troops and pledged to boost the German military’s cyber capabilities to counter Russia. NATO has previously accused Russia of using subversive tactics and propaganda to undermine the West without triggering a full NATO military response.

The US Army Futures Command is looking into developing a cannon with a range of up to 1,800 kilometres [22] to counter ‘peer competitors’ like Russia and China [23] on vastly larger battlefields [24]. The development of ‘long-range precision fires’ is one of the six army-modernisation priorities that the newly established command is focusing on.

Zero gravity

New Mexico’s Sunspot Solar Observatory has reopened [25] after being closed for almost two weeks. Staff and nearby residents were evacuated, and FBI agents and a Blackhawk helicopter were spotted at the scene. Claims that the FBI’s refused to share information [26] with local authorities sparked speculation about the reason for the closure. Theories ranged from the discovery of alien life to espionage concerns over the observatory’s proximity to the US Air Force and US Army facilities. The Association of Universities for Research in Astronomy eventually announced [27] that the observatory was closed due to criminal activity at its Sacramento Peak location.

Amazon’s cloud-computing division, Amazon Web Services, appears to be thinking about space [28]. AWS has a prominent role in US government IT frameworks and is bidding for a US$10 billion cloud contract [29] with the US Department of Defense. Job postings (which were later removed) for a space software engineer and space product manager suggested that Amazon sees space as the ‘new frontier for cloud infrastructure [30]’.

Start-ups are disrupting the traditionally government-dominated space industry, and major defence contractors are looking to capitalise on their innovations [31] in satellite technology. Companies like SpaceX are making satellite technology cheaper, smaller and more accessible. Firms such as Lockheed Martin want to access new talent and ideas from space start-ups, which are also attracting interest [32] from telecommunications and financial companies.

Wired watchtower

Google’s new  search-engine prototype [33] for China can link users’ phone numbers to their searches, making them easier to trace. The Intercept reports it can also censor terms like ‘human rights’ and ‘student protest’ and remove content about democracy and free speech. A senior Google scientist has resigned [34] over the project—called ‘Dragonfly’—and more than 1,400 Google employees have signed a letter protesting it. The tech giant launched a China-specific search engine in 2006 but it was taken down after Chinese authorities used it to hack into people’s emails and block websites.

A UK think tank has come under unprecedented cyberattack [35], with 2,400 recorded hacks over the last six months. Russia’s secret intelligence agency, the GRU, is thought to have carried out the attacks after the Henry Jackson Society published articles that expose the Kremlin’s trail of ‘ill-gotten wealth’ stored in London. The attack specifically targeted the emails of Russia experts with ‘brute force’ attempts to gain information about Russian dissident activity in London and links to intelligence agencies.

A hacking group linked to Iran and known to target Middle Eastern governments [36] has reportedly updated its arsenal by using a new version of the BONDUPDATER Trojan in its spearphishing operations. US research firm Palo Alto Networks says the updated version has been observed to open up new options for the malware to communicate with servers to carry out attacks.



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URLs in this post:

[1] generating great concern: https://www.newsweek.com/chinese-deal-take-over-key-israeli-port-may-threaten-us-naval-operations-1121780

[2] first missile-tracking ship: https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/indias-first-missile-tracking-ship-is-readying-for-sea-trials/article24929012.ece

[3] vessel: https://www.businessinsider.in/indias-first-missile-tracking-ship-is-ready-to-hit-high-seas/articleshow/65797750.cms

[4] Japan: https://www.janes.com/article/82955/japan-us-successfully-conduct-bmd-intercept-flight-test-from-js-atago

[5] stalled US efforts: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2018/08/30/donald-trump-blames-china-stalled-talks-north-korea/

[6] launched its first missile-capable attack submarine: https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2018/09/15/asia-pacific/south-korea-launches-first-missile-capable-submarine-amid-detente-north/#.W6A86s4zaHs

[7] delayed operational testing: https://www.defensenews.com/air/2018/09/12/f-35-operational-testing-delayed-until-latest-software-delivers/

[8] push back: https://www.janes.com/article/82994/update-pentagon-delays-f-35-iot-e-owing-to-software-issues

[9] mid-air refuelling: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/in-a-first-tejas-successfully-refuelled-mid-air-by-an-ilyushin-78-tanker/story-KlaVvOC1oMaU50mKDzWe8K.html

[10] revised several times: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/tejas-misses-another-deadline-for-being-fully-combat-ready/articleshow/64911632.cms

[11] mid-2019: https://www.deccanherald.com/national/india-joins-elite-club-first-692070.html

[12] Israel has denied rumours: https://defence-blog.com/army/israel-categorically-denied-that-saudi-arabia-has-purchased-iron-dome-missile-system.html

[13] Reports of the purchase: https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20180913-saudi-arabia-buys-iron-dome-defence-system-from-israel/

[14] Air Force Defender Challenge Championships: https://www.pacaf.af.mil/News/Article-Display/Article/1634518/pacaf-wins-defender-challenge/

[15] here: https://www.afsfc.af.mil/Home/DefenderChallenge/

[16] combat gender-based bias: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/13/70-percent-marine-commander-firings-year-due-bias-disrespect.html

[17] 11 troops were court-martialled: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/13/11-troops-kicked-out-after-court-martial-wake-marines-united-scandal.html

[18] March 2017 scandal: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/10/us/politics/marine-corps-women-photos-facebook.html

[19] swapping: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2017/07/10/first-marine-sentenced-jail-time-marines-united-photo-sharing.htmlhttps:/www.military.com/daily-news/2017/07/10/first-marine-sentenced-jail-time-marines-united-photo-sharing.html

[20] longstanding accusation: https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/09/15/german-troops-face-russian-hybrid-war-lithuania-merkel.html

[21] hybrid warfare: http://smallwarsjournal.com/jrnl/art/russian-hybrid-warfare-unconventional-warfare-implementing-counter-unconventional-warfare

[22] with a range of up to 1,800 kilometres: https://www.military.com/defensetech/2018/09/14/army-eyeing-strategic-cannon-tech-1000-mile-range.html

[23] Russia and China: https://breakingdefense.com/2018/01/mattis-military-strategy-raises-china-to-top-threat-allies-feature-prominently/

[24] vastly larger battlefields: https://breakingdefense.com/2017/10/a-wider-war-army-revises-multi-domain-battle-after-air-force-input/

[25] has reopened: https://www.popularmechanics.com/space/telescopes/a23281639/new-mexico-observatory-closure-reason/

[26] refused to share information: https://www.news.com.au/technology/science/space/sunspot-observatory-unexplained-fbi-raid-sparks-conspiracy-theories/news-story/ccf683ac757091c8ce7e881558573165

[27] announced: http://aura-astronomy.org/news/news.asp?newsID=389

[28] appears to be thinking about space: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/11/amazons-cloud-business-is-looking-to-space.html

[29] US$10 billion cloud contract: https://www.cnbc.com/2018/04/06/aws-not-close-to-winning-jedi-government-cloud-deal.html

[30] new frontier for cloud infrastructure: https://this.just.in/amazon-developing-new-space-and-satellite-services/

[31] innovations: https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/technology/us-defence-giants-going-for-smaller-cheaper-satellites-amid-space-industry-shake-up

[32] attracting interest: https://www.satellitetoday.com/business/2018/09/10/telecoms-satellite-investment-trends-bankers-weigh-in/

[33]  search-engine prototype: https://theintercept.com/2018/09/14/google-china-prototype-links-searches-to-phone-numbers/

[34] has resigned: https://www.techtimes.com/articles/234346/20180916/google-employees-resign-in-protest-of-project-dragonfly-a-censored-search-engine-for-china.htm

[35] unprecedented cyberattack: https://www.express.co.uk/news/uk/1018137/Russia-news-vladimir-putin-news-latest-russia-hack-uk-think-tank

[36] Middle Eastern governments: https://www.cyberscoop.com/oilrig-bondupdater-palo-alto-technologies/

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