The five-domains update

Sea state

The US Navy is reshuffling its ballistic-missile defence (BMD) ships to cover for the USS McCain and USS Fitzgerald, which were damaged in collisions earlier this year. Repairs on the two ships are expected to take more than a year. The USS Monterey will be deployed to the 5th and 6th fleets (Europe and the Middle East), and the USS O’Kane will be redeployed to the 7th fleet in the Pacific. The development of more sophisticated ballistic missiles by North Korea and escalating tensions have increased demand for BMD ships in the west Pacific.

Chinese authorities have made a public complaint about a US freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea. The USS Chafee sailed near the Paracel Island chain, crossing a disputed Chinese maritime border, without first notifying Chinese authorities. US authorities refused to confirm the operation, but a Defense Department spokesman said that ‘the United States will … operate wherever international law allows’. The Chinese reportedly sent two fighter jets, a helicopter and surface ships to escort the Chafee out of the area.

Flight path

How Aviation Partners Incorporated and pilot Steve Hinton set a new world record for the fastest piston-engined flight has been revealed. Changing the shape of the 75-year-old wing using laser technology reduced the drag, allowing the plane to reach a top speed of 560 miles per hour. Video of the feat can be viewed here, complete with a Chariots of Fire–style backing track.

Information about the F-35 joint strike fighter program was among the data stolen by ‘Alf,’ the actor who hacked an unnamed Australian defence contractor in November 2016. The breach was exposed in the Australian Cyber Security Centre’s latest threat report, but Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne stated that the information was not classified. Alf also obtained data on the P-8 Poseidon and C-130 Hercules aircraft.

Aviation Week has revealed that the Cessna Denali will become the first plane to fly with a printed engine by year’s end. GE’s printed turboprop design reduces the number of parts from 855 to 12, with development costs in excess of US$400 million. The engine will also be used to increase the capabilities of the Apache and Black Hawk helicopters.

Rapid fire

The Chief of Army History Conference convenes on 19 and 20 October. The Chief of Army and the Australian Army History Unit will host discussions on ‘how armies learn while in contact with the enemy’, using historical examples ranging from the British Army in South Africa in 1900 and the Red Army’s military doctrines, to Canada in Afghanistan. The overall theme is ‘The Skill of Adaptability: the Learning Curve in Combat’. The conference is open to the public, though registration is required.

The Australian Army’s operational capability is set to improve: FLIR Systems was awarded a US$6.8 million contract to supply Black Hornet personal reconnaissance systems, which the army had previously evaluated for suitability. The system allows for increased surveillance capabilities and can be hand-launched due to its small size, ‘enabling a significant advantage in situational awareness and mission planning’.

While many Poles are grateful for the increased presence of US troops, their passion for mushroom picking still comes first—even if it causes US tank units to cancel their manoeuvres. What multinational exercising would ideally look like in the region can be seen in this US Army video (5 mins).

Zero gravity

Morgan Stanley, a leading global financial services firm, has predicted that the space industry will triple in size to a valuation of US$1.1 trillion by 2040. This growth would largely be driven by demand for the internet, which is currently 37% of the global space economy revenue. Morgan Stanley also identified 20 stocks that are best positioned to gain from a space boom. No Australian companies were included in the list, meaning we have a lot of work to do.

Six people recently surfaced from an eight-month-long isolation experiment on the world’s largest active volcano in Hawaii. NASA’s ‘journey to Mars’ research has the goal of greater understanding the psychological impacts of manned missions. In The Conversation, Gbenga Odunta, associate professor at the University of Kent, explained how the experiment demonstrates a need for ‘Martian law’ that would govern human activities on the red planet.

If you’d like your name to be sent to Mars, you’ve got until the 1 November to register for the Insight Mission to Mars. This service is free, so get in quickly if you want to save money on Christmas presents. Spacecraft specialists at Lockheed Martin Space Systems in Denver have already affixed 826,923 names to the InSight lander so far, which is due to launch from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base in May 2018.

Wired watchtower

The Australian Information Security Association held its 2017 national conference last week. Conference-goers got to see a rare public presentation by the Australian Signals Directorate that detailed the hacking of an Australian defence contractor (see above). The data breach and the following period of unauthorised access, nicknamed ‘Alf’s Mystery Happy Fun Time’, have drawn the attention of the US State Department, which is asking whether the company was in compliance with the information security requirements under the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.

@Cyber_Roo might soon become a household icon. The idea of sticking security ratings on internet-connected devices, in the same vein as energy star ratings for home appliances, has been kicking around for some time now, and the ‘cyber kangaroo’ logo was first workshopped late last year. At this stage, though, it seems to be more of a suggestion. The government is urging the industry to self-correct when it comes to security vulnerabilities, before it faces the prospect of having warning labels slapped over all of its products.