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The five-domains update

Posted By , , and on February 26, 2019 @ 13:03

Sea state

The nuclear-attack submarine USS Santa Fe sailed with four of Australia’s Collins-class submarines during Exercise Ocean Explorer last week. This is the third year for the training exercise, which is held in the Indian Ocean off Australia’s west coast. The US and Australia were joined by New Zealand and the UK in practising maritime security, war-fighting and humanitarian relief. The exercise followed statements by Royal Australian Navy chief Vice Admiral Mike Noonan during Senate estimates that the Collins submarines will require substantial upgrades before the first of the Attack class arrives in the 2030s.

Iranian media has reported a successful test-launch of a cruise missile from Iran’s Ghadir-class submarine during three days of naval games in the Strait of Hormuz. Iran also asserts that its new Fateh-class submarines have the same anti-ship capability. The naval exercise, dubbed Vilayat 97, is aimed at strengthening the Iranian presence in the Gulf and the Indian Ocean amid heightened tensions with the US and Saudi Arabia.

Australia has deployed the landing ship HMAS Choules, with 210 naval personnel and soldiers on board, on a month-long training voyage to Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu to boost the navy’s presence in the southwestern Pacific. Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said the exercise is part of Australia’s enhanced engagement with its Pacific neighbours and its commitment to build the capacity of regional partners.

Flight path

The Royal Air Force has marked the Tornado multirole combat jet’s retirement from active service with a series of flypasts. The Tornado has been the UK’s primary ground attack aircraft since 1979, but it has also performed a range of interdiction/strike and electronic countermeasure/reconnaissance missions throughout its service history, most notably in the 1991 Gulf War. The aircraft will be used for training purposes and will be replaced by Eurofighter Typhoon and F-35 fighters.

NASA will test new urban drone traffic-management software to oversee the increasing number of small unmanned aircraft being used over major cities. Two organisations in Corpus Christi, Texas, and Las Vegas, Nevada, have been selected to trial NASA’s Unmanned Aircraft Systems Traffic Management system. The new technology is being developed to help avoid collisions and ensure public safety.

Two Hawk aircraft belonging to the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Display Team collided and crashed at India’s Yelahanka Air Force Station, killing one pilot. The aircraft were scheduled to perform in Bengaluru at this year’s Aero India airshow. The Indian Air Force has suffered several crashes in the past year, the most recent on 1 February when a newly upgraded Mirage 2000 crashed and its two pilots died.

Rapid fire

Burundi has threatened to pull all of its 5,400 troops from Somalia after the African Union specifically requested that 1,000 Burundi troops be withdrawn. That plan was first proposed  by the UN Security Council in 2017. The African Union plans to withdraw all 21,500 African peacekeepers by 2020 and then hand over to Somalia security forces. Burundi fears removing 1,000 troops would leave the remaining forces vulnerable and unable to effectively fight al-Shabaab militants. The withdrawal has already begun, according to a military official.

The US Army is pursuing new technologies to protect ground forces from anti-tank missiles by layering defence systems. A BAE electronic jamming system known as RAVEN causes incoming missiles to be diverted. The system has been selected for further testing by the army in conjunction with Rafael’s ‘Iron Fist anti-missile system. By using both a jammer and an anti-missile system simultaneously, the army says it will be able to more quickly and capably adapt to threats, with the added benefit of minimising the amount of ammunition needed.

The Australian Army is hiring civilians to work as ‘simulation interactors’ on a casual basis at Puckapunyal training base. The interactors will be, which will require them to react in real time to decisions and actions made during a computer simulation. The job requires excellent hand–eye coordination, dexterity with computer controls, and strong communication skills to interact with different levels of personnel.

Zero gravity

Researchers at Western Sydney University have unveiled the ‘Astrosite’, a portable camera system designed to track movements of space objects in real time. The system will have a number of different applications, most promisingly helping avoid satellite collisions as well as increasing space situational awareness and allowing the RAAF to see out into space.

For the first time, Virgin Galactic has launched a passenger on a test flight. Virgin Galactic executive Beth Moses was the first passenger, joining the test flight to try out the cabin experience for future space tourists. Suborbital travel seems to have reached a turning point. Another commercial travel provider, Blue Origin, announced last year that it would be selling tickets for its own commercial flights in 2019. A suborbital flight takes passengers briefly into space but without the speed needed to keep them in orbit.

A US researcher, Emily Matula, is investigating the potential of algae to create self-sustaining systems during space flight that would allow humans to undertake longer missions. There’s a growing interest in the role of space algae, with NASA also commissioning a study last year into growing algae in microgravity as a way to recycle carbon dioxide and as a source of in-flight food.

Wired watchtower

Microsoft employees called on their company to cancel a $480 million contract with the US Army for ‘HoloLens’ augmented reality headsets, saying they don’t want to be ‘war profiteers.’ In an open letter, employees who developed the technology said they ‘did not sign up to build weapons’ and believed the technology ‘would be used to help architects and engineers build buildings and cars, to help teach people how to perform surgery or play the piano’. The army plans to use the HoloLens for combat infantry training.

Earlier this month, the Swiss government announced that a public penetration test would be carried out by hackers and independent IT specialists to test the resilience of the country’s online voting system. However, the system’s source code was leaked online prior to the test and examined by cryptography experts. They criticised the system’s design, saying that it could be easily manipulated from the inside and is vulnerable to outside attacks.

The Jordanian parliament has rejected new amendments to a proposed cybercrime law because of concerns that the ambiguous definition of ‘hate speech’ could be used by the government to reduce freedom of expression and target human rights activists. In widespread protests, Jordanians have repeatedly called for the withdrawal of the bill.

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[1] sailed: https://www.stripes.com/news/pacific/uss-santa-fe-trains-with-four-australian-submarines-in-indian-ocean-1.569235

[2] substantial upgrades: https://navaltoday.com/2019/02/20/australias-collins-class-could-need-more-upgrades-before-future-submarines-arrive/?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

[3] Attack class: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-12-13/future-naval-submarines-renamed-attack-class/10614876

[4] reported: http://en.farsnews.com/newstext.aspx?nn=13971128000962

[5] heightened tensions: https://www.jpost.com/Middle-East/Iran-navy-conducts-massive-drill-in-Persian-Gulf-Sea-of-Oman-581452

[6] deployed: http://news.navy.gov.au/en/Feb2019/Fleet/5071#.XHMYkogzaUk

[7] enhanced engagement: https://www.minister.defence.gov.au/minister/cpyne/media-releases/hmas-choules-embarks-enhances-engagement-pacific

[8] Tornado multirole combat jet’s retirement from active service: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-47291557

[9] will test: https://www.cnbc.com/2019/02/20/nasa-to-test-urban-drone-traffic-management-in-texas-and-nevada.html

[10] collided and crashed: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-20/india-air-force-planes-collide-during-aerobatics-practice/10828122

[11] several crashes: https://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/defence/indian-air-forces-mirage-2000-crashes-in-bengaluru-pilot-dead/articleshow/67786603.cms

[12] most recent: https://www.hindustantimes.com/india-news/safety-gear-failed-in-mirage-crash-that-killed-both-pilots/story-Uoze7ElIFBAh7WE3Nf7S0N.html

[13] threatened: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-02-22/burundi-threatens-to-withdraw-all-its-troops-from-somalia

[14] first proposed : https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Burundi-case-against-pullout-of-its-troops-in-Somalia/4552908-4985480-lt3qiz/index.html

[15] plans to withdraw: https://www.theeastafrican.co.ke/news/ea/Amisom-ready-to-withdraw/4552908-4845956-ifb46r/index.html

[16] withdrawal has already begun: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/africa/withdrawal-of-1000-burundian-soldiers-from-somalia-begins/2019/02/21/f01f29fc-3603-11e9-8375-e3dcf6b68558_story.html?utm_term=.af11a2f68c8b

[17] selected for further testing: https://breakingdefense.com/2019/02/army-picks-bae-jammer-to-kill-russian-missiles-softly/

[18] hiring civilians: https://www.sheppnews.com.au/@news/2019/02/23/457923/news-community1111-army-displays-simulation-technology

[19] ‘Astrosite’: https://www.westernsydney.edu.au/newscentre/news_centre/more_news_stories/world-first_technology_to_revolutionise_space_imaging

[20] different applications: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-02-24/space-camera-astrosite-created-in-sydney-a-game-change-raaf-says/10842220

[21] launched a passenger: https://www.spaceflightinsider.com/organizations/virgin-galactic/spaceshiptwo-flies-to-space-with-1st-test-passenger/

[22] announced last year: https://spacenews.com/blue-origin-plans-to-start-selling-suborbital-spaceflight-tickets-next-year/

[23] potential of algae: https://www.wired.co.uk/article/algae-long-term-space-missions

[24] commissioning a study: https://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/station/research/experiments/2552.html

[25] cancel a $480 million contract: https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/feb/22/microsoft-protest-us-army-augmented-reality-headsets

[26] open letter: https://twitter.com/MsWorkers4/status/1099066343523930112

[27] plans to use the HoloLens: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-11-28/microsoft-wins-480-million-army-battlefield-contract

[28] a public penetration test: https://www.evoting-blog.ch/en/pages/2019/public-hacker-test-on-swiss-post-s-e-voting-system

[29] criticised the system’s design: https://motherboard.vice.com/en_us/article/vbwz94/experts-find-serious-problems-with-switzerlands-online-voting-system-before-public-penetration-test-even-begins

[30] rejected: https://menafn.com/1098144626/Jordan-MPs-reject-new-amendments-to-Cybercrime-Law

[31] widespread protests: https://www.accessnow.org/cybercrime-law-in-jordan-pushing-back-on-new-amendments-that-could-harm-free-expression-and-violate-privacy/