The five-domains update

Sea state

The US Navy has sent a P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to test a Royal Australian Navy task group’s air defences. The deployment and exercise were part of the RAN’s fleet certification period. The aircraft is based in Japan with the US 7th Fleet and it worked alongside an Australian P-8A and a New Zealand P-3 Orion to test the task group. Australia is acquiring 15 P-8As to replace its own Orions, 12 of which have already been delivered.

Thales and L3Harris will develop unmanned surface vessels for military, security and offshore energy applications. The companies say the vessels would be well suited for clearing sea mines, a job which has historically been personnel-intensive, slow and dangerous. The first two of the Thales/L3Harris USVs will enter service with the British Royal Navy and France’s Marine Nationale this year.

Flight path

The UK’s Farnborough International Airshow, one of the largest aerospace technology showcases in the world, has been cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The cancellation of the biennial event, which was due to start in July, will have broad economic implications for the aerospace industry. In 2018, $286 billion worth of deals were concluded and more than 80,000 visitors from 112 countries visited the airshow.

Personnel from the Royal Australian Air Force, BAE, Lockheed Martin and Marand have used a purpose-built trailer and facility at RAAF Williamtown to conduct Australia’s first F-35A engine removal. It’s an important step in ensuring the RAAF’s most advanced jet can be operated and maintained effectively in Australia.

Rapid fire

The head of the US Army’s futures and concepts centre says the service will need to gradually abandon fossil fuels and replace them with electric and hybrid power sources for its vehicles. This shift will eventually reduce motorised brigades’ logistic needs and improve mobility. The army says that as the automotive industry steadily switches to electric power, armed forces will need to follow suit in order to avoid issues with resources and supply chains.

Pressure is mounting for the Pentagon to take stricter measures to protect the US military from the spread of Covid-19. The number of cases continues to rise among the troops and the US Defense Department has reported its first death related to the virus. As the Army Corps of Engineers plans to convert old facilities into hospitals, experts warn that there are several limitations on what the army can do to combat the virus.

Final frontier

The US Space Force says its first offensive weapon system is operational. The Counter Communications System (CCS) Block 10.2 is a transportable electronic-warfare system that temporarily jams an adversary’s satellite communications. The US Air Force deployed three CCS Block 10.0 units in 2004 in response to systems being developed by other countries.

China’s launch of a classified satellite on its new-generation Long March 7A rocket failed last week. It’s thought the rocket, which is a variation of the standard Long March 7, wasn’t able to enter the required orbit. Engineers are investigating the cause of the failure, which could delay other Chinese space missions.

Wired watchtower

Amid supply shortages of critical equipment triggered by the coronavirus crisis, hospitals around the world have turned to crowdsourcing and 3D printing for supplies such as respirator valves for patients and protective masks and face shields for healthcare workers. Doctors, hospital technicians and 3D printing specialists in Italy, the UK and the US have also been using Google Docs, WhatsApp groups and online databases to share expertise on building, fixing and modifying hospital machines like ventilators.

As social distancing and working from home become the norm, videoconferencing app Zoom has become an increasingly popular platform. However, the app has been subject to trolling by individuals who find public meetings links and then ‘Zoombomb’ calls by sharing graphic content with call participants. As Zoom grows in popularity, there are concerns that it will face content moderation issues similar to those faced by Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks.