The five-domains update
11 Jun 2019| and

Sea state

A video of a near collision between a Russian destroyer and US Navy cruiser has been released by the US Navy. It’s unclear where the incident occurred. Russia says the encounter happened in the East China Sea, but the US says the two ships were in the Philippine Sea. While Russia claims the US warship was responsible for the near collision, a picture taken by a US military aircraft analysed by ASPI’s Malcolm Davis shows that the Russian destroyer Admiral Viongradov deliberately manoeuvred towards USS Chancersville.

Brazil has agreed to transfer its four German-made Tupi-class submarines to Argentina. Brazil is modernising its fleet of submarines and has plans to start building its first nuclear-powered submarine in the mid-2020s. The transfer of Brazilian submarines is a positive development for the Argentine Navy, which lost 44 submariners in a deadly accident in 2017. But safety concerns are likely to resurface as the four Brazilian submarines are not operational and will need to be repaired and refurbished before entering Argentine service.

Flight path

The US has given Turkey until July to cancel its order of the Russian S-400 missile defence system. Failure to do so will see Turkey removed from the F-35 program and Turkish suppliers will be replaced by other companies by 2020. Turkey’s exit from the program is likely to delay F-35 deliveries. In April, Vice Admiral Mat Winter told Congress that the removal of Turkey would put more stress on F-35 production lines.

Spatial disorientation has been blamed for the crash of a Japanese Air Self-Defense Force F-35A in April.  The report from Japanese officials comes just days after the pilot’s remains were recovered off the coast of northeastern Japan. The aircraft itself hasn’t been found, but the search for it has been called off. There are reports that Russia and China could try to locate the missing aircraft for intelligence purposes.

For the first time, two Vietnamese pilots have finished the aviation leadership program in the US, a one-year course run by the US Air Force. Defence ties between Vietnam and the US have increased significantly since US President Barack Obama’s visit to Hanoi in 2016. Vietnam is expected to take delivery of several Boeing ScanEagle drones and Beechcraft T-6 Texan II trainer aircraft by 2022.

Rapid fire

Brigadier General Laura Yeager will become the first woman to command a US Army infantry division when she takes command of the 40th Infantry Division on 29 June. Yeager will move from her current position as the commander of the Joint Task Force North, US Northern Command. She has previously served as a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot and was deputy commander of the California National Guard’s 40th Combat Aviation Brigade during her deployment in Iraq. ‘As a female, I have found the military to provide opportunities and benefits unmatched by any profession’, Yeager said.

As Britain prepared to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day last week, its chief of general staff warned that the British military risks becoming ‘irrelevant’ in future warfare if it fails to modernise. General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said the outcomes of warfare will be increasingly determined by ‘software and artificial intelligence’ rather than ‘hardware’ and that an ‘urgent reappraisal of how, with what and by whom war is waged in the future’ is needed. The comments were made at the annual RUSI Land Warfare Conference in London.

Final frontier

NASA has released a commercialisation strategy for the International Space Station. Commercial activities must be connected to NASA’s mission, promote the sustainable advancement of the low-earth orbit economy or make use of the ISS’s unique microgravity environment. The strategy includes a commercial use policy which provides a pricing schedule for transporting cargo to and from the station and services at the station. Part of the plan will allow companies to use a docking port to attach commercial modules. The strategy, including policies and pricing, is open for industry feedback.

United Technologies and Raytheon plan to merge to create an ‘aerospace and defense giant’ worth US$121 billion. The new conglomerate would span aerospace and commercial aviation and defence procurement to create an ‘aerospace powerhouse’. US President Donald Trump has criticised the planned merger, which could raise the cost of US military procurement. The plan will come under scrutiny from American antitrust regulators.

Wired watchtower

The New South Wales auditor-general says universities in the state are highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. The report comes less than a week after it was found hackers stole the personal information of thousands of students and staff at the Australian National University. The report calls for significant improvements in security policies and IT controls, and notes that universities have been slow to implement key recommendations outlined in previous audits. Charles Sturt University was found to be at high risk of having sensitive data stolen, though the university disputes the report’s finding.

The US National Security Agency has issued an advisory warning Microsoft Windows users of a flaw that could make them vulnerable to cyberattacks. Operating systems including Windows 7 are at higher risk of automated attacks and malware that can give hackers complete control of a computer system. While the advisory is not linked to any specific threat, Microsoft has told users to update their software immediately.