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The five-domains update

Posted By , , and on April 30, 2019 @ 13:34

Sea state

China’s defence ministry said on Thursday that France ‘illegally enter[ed] Chinese waters’ after the Chinese navy warned a French warship [1] to leave the Taiwan Strait earlier this month. China has lodged an official protest [2] at the ‘rare move [3]’ by the French Navy, which has reaffirmed its commitment to ‘freedom of navigation under maritime law’. Following the Chinese statement, two US Navy destroyers passed through [4] the Taiwan Strait on Sunday.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced that three new navy ships [5] will be built in Western Australia if the Coalition is re-elected. The $1 billion election promise would see two minesweepers and a hydrographic vessel built at the Henderson shipyard, south of Perth. The prime minister said the decision to bring the replacement of the Huon-class minehunter forward from the 2030s to the mid-2020s was about ‘thousands of jobs in Western Australia’.

On Tuesday, Russia laid down [6] two Admiral Gorshkov-class stealth guided-missile frigates at the Severnaya Verf shipyard in St Petersburg. The vessels will be the largest surface combatants built for the Russian Navy since the end of the Soviet Union. Russia has also started building two frigates [7] for the Indian Navy at Kaliningrad’s Yantar Shipyard with help from state arms exporter Rosoboronexport.

Flight path

The US Air Force’s B-1B Lancer strategic bombers are back in the air [8] one month after the fleet was grounded. In March, airmen discovered that an ejection-seat drogue chute had been installed incorrectly and the commander of USAF Global Strike Command ordered a ‘safety stand-down’ of the entire fleet over safety concerns. Problems with the bomber’s emergency egress system are not new [9]. In June 2018, the fleet was grounded because of technical issues with the aircraft’s ejection seats.

Xiamen University in China has reportedly become the first university in the world [10] to successfully test a hypersonic reusable rocket. Known as the Jiageng-I, the rocket was launched in the Gobi Desert and reached an altitude of 26.2 kilometres. According to members of the team [11], Chinese and European researchers have collaborated on the project. China’s development of hypersonic weapons has become a major concern [12] for the US in recent years.

Royal Air Force Typhoon fighter jets have started NATO Baltic air-policing operations [13]. Four Typhoons from RAF Coningsby arrived in Estonia on 24 April and will help protect Baltic airspace for the next four months. The NATO mission was set up in 2004 to help Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania guard against Russian incursions.

Rapid fire

Researchers at IMT Atlantique, a leading French engineering school, have unveiled a wirelessly connected contact lens [14] that can provide augmented vision assistance to users and also relay visual information wirelessly. It has a flexible micro-battery. Microsoft and the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency are reportedly [15] interested in the Mission Impossible–type lens. DARPA has been exploring the use of contact lenses to enhance battlefield vision for the past 10 years.

The US Army has awarded contracts [16] to five industry competitors for the development of prototypes of a ‘future attack reconnaissance aircraft’ to replace the Vietnam-era OH-58 Kiowa helicopter. The US Army Contracting Command says the program is different from the usual procurement process and will give the army flexibility in the way it responds to specific requirements.

The Sudanese Army has agreed to establish a joint civilian–military council [17]following major protests after a military takeover on 11 April. Thousands of protesters calling for civilian rule have been camped outside the military headquarters in Khartoum. The protest leaders and the army are now in discussions over what percentage of the council should be represented by the military. Activists have proposed [17] a 15-member body with eight civilians and seven army generals.

Final frontier

NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel has advised [18] the agency not to remove a ‘green run’ from the Space Launch System’s development timeline, which had been suggested as a way to accelerate the project’s development after delays. According to NASA [19], a green run is ‘the first time the engines are assembled into a single configuration with the core stage and fired at nearly full-power’. The panel strongly emphasised the test’s importance to ensuring the safety of manned spacecraft.

Chinese companies are following the success of SpaceX [20] in exploring technology for recapturing and reusing rockets. Last week, two start-ups successfully tested demonstration rockets [10] in northwest China. The rockets are needed to develop reusable launch vehicles, and one of those being tested is part of a broader project to develop a vertical take-off and horizontal landing reusable launch vehicle.

Scientists at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory have detected what is suspected to be the first interplanetary seismological tremor [21], dubbed a ‘marsquake’. Data sent from the InSight spacecraft [22], which landed on Mars late last year to study the interior structure of the planet, enabled the discovery. Mars doesn’t have tectonic plates, so seismic activity is caused by pressure built during a cooling and contracting process.

Wired watchtower

Australian political parties may be self-censoring their use of WeChat [23] in the lead-up to the federal election in order to comply with Chinese Communist Party rules that govern the social media platform. Some of the accounts may be in breach [24] of WeChat rules, as a number of Australian political profiles are registered in China to unknown individuals.

A researcher has found [25] that an extensive network of pro-Trump Twitter bots were used to spread disinformation linked to the release of Robert Mueller’s report on possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia. Interestingly, more than 5,000 bots were linked not to Russia but to Saudi Arabia. Almost all the accounts have been deleted by Twitter, but it’s still unclear if the government of Saudi Arabia had some involvement in this disinformation campaign.

Only a week after it was launched, hackers were able to compromise [26] a French messaging app designed to better protect government communications. The French government said Tchap would be more secure than WhatsApp and Telegram. In just one hour, hackers testing the app’s security were able to create accounts and gain access to private conversation groups. The government worked with the app’s developer to fix the problem and now plans to offer a ‘bug bounty’ [27] to encourage security experts to tell it if they find other vulnerabilities.

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URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-five-domains-update-57/

URLs in this post:

[1] warned a French warship: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/making-sense-of-chinas-reaction-to-the-french-navys-taiwan-strait-transit/

[2] lodged an official protest: https://www.france24.com/en/20190425-china-says-navy-warned-off-french-warship-taiwan-strait

[3] rare move: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-taiwan-france-warship-china/exclusive-in-rare-move-french-warship-passes-through-taiwan-strait-idUSKCN1S10Q7

[4] passed through: https://twitter.com/idreesali114/status/1122652638967934976

[5] three new navy ships: https://www.9news.com.au/national/morrison-promises-1b-for-new-navy-ships/51c143e0-cf8b-44bd-84a9-fa6f7176f024

[6] laid down: https://thediplomat.com/2019/04/russia-lays-down-2-project-22350-admiral-gorshkov-class-stealth-frigates/?fbclid=IwAR21e8QSbdTNmYT52Fx_vmpmxAwvhutYDN-Xuw28zCFeLGqPt80fShGTHFU

[7] building two frigates: https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/russia-to-build-indian-navy-new-frigates/

[8] back in the air: https://combataircraft.keypublishing.com/2019/04/24/usaf-clears-b-1s-to-return-to-operations/

[9] are not new: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/20995/the-air-force-has-grounded-all-of-its-b-1bs-over-a-fault-in-their-ejection-seats

[10] reportedly become the first university in the world: https://spacenews.com/chinese-firms-space-transportation-and-linkspace-test-reusable-launcher-technologies/

[11] According to members of the team: https://www.scmp.com/news/china/science/article/3007374/chinese-university-becomes-first-world-build-and-test-its-own

[12] major concern: https://news.usni.org/2019/03/14/panel-china-leading-world-hypersonic-weapon-development

[13] NATO Baltic air-policing operations: https://www.raf.mod.uk/news/articles/raf-typhoon-jets-arrive-in-estonia/

[14] wirelessly connected contact lens: https://nationalinterest.org/blog/buzz/darpa-eyeing-high-tech-contact-lens-straight-out-mission-impossible-54617

[15] are reportedly: https://www.armyrecognition.com/weapons_defence_industry_military_technology_uk/us_darpa_microsoft_interested_in_french_connected_contact_lens.html

[16] awarded contracts: https://www.army-technology.com/news/us-army-fara-prototype/

[17] establish a joint civilian–military council : http://www.arabnews.com/node/1489476/middle-east

[18] advised: https://spacenews.com/nasa-urged-to-retain-key-sls-test/

[19] According to NASA: https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/systems/sls/b2stand.html

[20] SpaceX: https://jalopnik.com/almighty-poseidon-reclaims-his-spacex-rocket-into-the-o-1834086846

[21] first interplanetary seismological tremor: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-24/mars-probe-insight-detects-first-possible-marsquake/11041370

[22] InSight spacecraft: https://mars.nasa.gov/insight/

[23] use of WeChat: https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/technology/australia-political-leaders-use-chinese-app-to-chase-votes/2019/04/24/969ea130-6666-11e9-a698-2a8f808c9cfb_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.bb68bb039b98

[24] may be in breach: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-04-24/morrison-shorten-risk-losing-wechat-access-to-chinese-voters/11037868

[25] has found: https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/after-mueller-report-twitter-bots-pushed-russiagate-hoax-narrative-n997441

[26] were able to compromise: https://threatpost.com/frances-secure-telegram-messaging-hacked/144010/

[27] plans to offer a ‘bug bounty’: https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2019/04/french-governments-secure-chat-app-left-door-open-to-outsiders/

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