The five-domains update

Sea state

The Australian government has brought forward the decision on upgrading the RAN’s anti-ship missile defences due to regional volatility. The RAN will upgrade the Nulka active missile decoy system on the Anzac-class frigates and Hobart-class destroyers and will introduce the system onto the Canberra-class landing helicopter docks. The Nulka system has been selected for the future frigates, but a decision regarding existing platforms wasn’t due to be made until next year.

Australia and South Korea have conducted a joint naval exercise in the waters off the Korean peninsula. This is the latest iteration of the biennial Haedoli Wallaby exercise between the two nations. HMA Ships Stuart, Arunta, Parramatta and Melbourne took part in the three-day exercise, which focused on anti-submarine warfare and increasing interoperability between the Korean and Australian navies. The ships sailed to the peninsula as part of the Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2017 joint task group.

Amid tension in the West Pacific and threats from North Korea, the US supercarrier Theodore Roosevelt and its strike group made a port visit at Guam en route to deployment in the Persian Gulf. The visit includes ‘multiple community relations projects, shipboard tours and sporting events’.

Flight path 

The US has flown two B-1B Lancer bombers over the Korean peninsula as part of a joint exercise with Japan and South Korea. The drill preceded President Donald Trump’s 13-day, five-country Asia tour, the longest Asian trip for an American president since George H.W. Bush in 1992. North Korean News reportedly said that the exercise indicates that the ‘gangster-like U.S. imperialists are the very one [sic] who is aggravating the situation of the Korean peninsula’.

Aviation Week has released pictures of some of the aircraft that will participate in next week’s Dubai Airshow. The Gulf Aviation Training Event (GATE) will also be a feature in the airshow, and will focus on addressing issues such as pilot demand and Middle East aviation training.

Eight people have been confirmed dead in a helicopter crash in Saudi Arabia, including the deputy governor of the Asir province, Prince Mansour bin Moqren. Little detail has emerged about the nature of the crash, except that the prince and accompanying government officials were believed to be on a tour of the province when the helicopter went down.

Rapid fire

Last week was all about commemorating the 100-year anniversary of the Battle of Beersheba. This video shows some impressions from Brisbane’s 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) Freedom of Entry March last week, with comments from Brigadier Tony Rawlins, 7th Brigade Commander. The Australian Army’s Facebook page features another video and also summarises the future restructuring and capability modernisation of the army under ‘Plan Beersheba’, named after the battle from 100 years ago.

The Long Road Home, a new mini-series beginning tonight at 8.30 pm on National Geographic, is based on the New York Times bestseller by Martha Raddatz, centred on the events, sacrifices and experiences of soldiers (and their families at home) throughout the battle of Sadr City, Iraq, in April 2004. Also known as Black Sunday, the fighting lasted 48 hours and left eight soldiers of the 1st Cavalry Division dead and around 50 wounded. You can watch the trailer here.

The Nigerian Army has achieved some success in its fight against Boko Haram in the last couple of years, managing to push the group back and liberating former strongholds. Now they’re trying to overcome distrust in the army itself and win hearts and minds, particularly of youth at risk of joining the terrorist group. One tool is soccer.

Zero gravity

The green light has been given to launch rockets into space from what could be Australia’s first civilian spaceport, the planned Arnhem Space Centre in the Northern Territory. Similar ideas have been floated in the past, but if this one gets off the ground it’ll be the only facility of its kind in Southeast Asia. Northern Territory traditional land owners the Gumatj clan played a crucial role in the process, subleasing the land to Equatorial Launch Australia. Gumatj Aboriginal Corporation chief executive Klaus Helms said, ‘This is one step forward for indigenous people into a new world.’

Anthony Wicht, the United States Studies Centre’s Alliance 21 Fellow and space expert, has published a five-step guide to establishing an effective Australian space agency in The Conversation.

Last Wednesday, President Trump’s controversial pick for NASA chief, Representative Jim Bridenstine, was ‘grilled’ by Democrats in a Senate confirmation hearing over his positions on climate change and politics. FiveThirtyEight recently posted a blog piece detailing the radical changes Bridenstine plans to implement at the agency.

On Sunday, China successfully launched a duo of satellites into orbit using its Long March 3B rocket. The launch was initially planned for July, but was delayed by a series of failures. The success is much needed for China, which may wish to compete with Space X and Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin.

Wired watchtower

Over in the US, tech giants have had a pitchfork-filled week in Congress. Details of 2,750 fake Twitter accounts were released to the public, two of which were extremely popular Twitter personalities known for posting conservative content to tens of thousands of followers. Adding to the bonfire, a departing Twitter contractor deactivated President Trump’s official Twitter account last Friday, triggering 11 minutes of panic for executives as they scrambled to restore the account, and leaving a public relations crisis that Twitter is still grappling with. The problem of contractors and insider access is likely to grow as Facebook doubles its own safety and security staff (most of them slated to be contractors) by the end of 2018.

Going against the grain, however, a New York Times opinion piece has offered a heady reminder that social media is, at its core, a (black?) mirror reflecting the habits of the society that uses it, and that users have their own responsibility to manage misinformation.

Lastly, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s historic visit to Israel last week forged new paths for defence and cyber cooperation, including a track 1.5 dialogue to be held in Canberra next year.