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The five-domains update

Posted By , , , and on February 11, 2020 @ 13:38

Sea state

The US has announced the addition of a low-yield nuclear weapon to its long-range submarine arsenal, a significant shift from the Obama-era policy of nuclear drawdown. The Trump administration has argued that the new weapon will deter Russia from using its own low-yield nuclear weapons first, which could force Washington to counter with a full-scale nuclear response. The low-yield weapon could deliver a payload of 5 kilotons, approximately one-third the size of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

Russia is set to deliver two modified Admiral Grigorovich–class guided-missile frigates to India in 2024, at a cost of more than US$2.5 billion. These ships are an upgraded version of the Indian Navy’s six Talwar-class frigates built by Russia between 2003 and 2013. India is building up the capacity of its Goa shipyard to facilitate work on the frigates.

Giovanni Carlo J. Bacordo has been selected as the head of the Philippine Navy following the retirement of his predecessor, Robert Empedrad. In an interview with the Philippine News Agency, Bacordo vowed to modernise and streamline the navy. The decommissioning of more than 20 outdated vessels is scheduled to occur by 2021, while two new frigates are expected to be delivered by September this year.

Flight path

Japan has confirmed it plans to procure a range of air-to-surface and long-range anti-ship missiles from the United States for its fleet of F-15J fighter aircraft. This new generation of standoff capabilities will enable Japanese jets to counter attacks from a maximum range of 926 kilometres and ‘take on high value, heavily defended targets’ without being exposed to enemy fire.

The Royal Malaysian Air Force is set to partner up with the United States to convert two of its seven CN-235 transport planes into maritime patrol aircraft equipped with improved surveillance and mission systems. The deal is part of the Pentagon’s US$425 million maritime security initiative, which seeks to bolster air and maritime capabilities of individual countries in the Asia–Pacific, in part as a response to regional concerns over Chinese expansion in the South China Sea.

Russia says a civilian Airbus A320 carrying 172 passengers was forced to make an emergency landing at one of its military bases in Syria after being shot at by Syrian air defence forces following an Israeli airstrike. Russia claims Israel uses civilian jets as ‘cover’ when conducting strikes in Syria, an assertion Israel hasn’t responded to since it doesn’t regularly acknowledge its operations in Syria. The near miss comes only a month after Iran shot down a Ukrainian passenger plane, killing all 176 people on board.

Rapid fire

The Australian Army has confirmed it will acquire the Rafael’s Spike LR2 missile as its long-range anti-armour missile capability. The Spike will be put into service with the army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance armoured vehicles as part of the LAND 159 project. Army chief Rick Burr said the capability will enable dismounted soldiers to ‘engage armoured targets faster, at increased range, and with improved accuracy’.

Weapons testers in the US Department of Defense are worried about how electronic warfare capabilities will be integrated with the US military’s hardware. A report by the Office of the Director of Operational Test and Evaluation assessed that the US Army lost electronic warfare capabilities after the Cold War while adversaries like Russia increased theirs. The report recommended that the army continue to refine its use and coordination of electronic warfare and intelligence systems.

A video aired on Ukraine’s Channel 5 television network showing the Ukrainian military firing a M1910 Maxim machine gun, a model which has been in operation since 1910. Ukraine became a geopolitical flashpoint in 2014 when Russia annexed Crimea, and the country still relies heavily on Soviet-era military equipment. While the M1910 shown is thought to be at least 75 years old, the 7.62 x 54 mm ammunition continues to be produced in Ukraine and Russia and the gun is likely to remain in service.

Final frontier

Iran launched a satellite that failed to reach orbit, Al Jazeera reported on Sunday. Tehran said the satellite had scientific purposes and that its aerospace activities were in line with UN Security Council resolutions. But the failed launch came as the country’s military unveiled a new ballistic missile with a range of up to 500 kilometres, and at a time of heightened tensions with the US, which has described Iran’s missile and space programs as provocative. Despite international sanctions, Iran has been developing a large arms industry.

The European Space Agency has launched its €1.5 billion ($2.4 billion) Solar Orbiter mission, which aims to address gaps in our knowledge of the sun. In five years, it will send close-up images of the sun’s unexplored polar regions, allowing scientists to analyse its magnetic cycles. A better understanding of the sun’s magnetic activity could improve public safety on earth by allowing for the prediction of solar flares. See here for updates on the mission.

The Chinese space industry might be slowed down by the novel coronavirus and prevention measures surrounding the disease, according to SpaceNews. The China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation has resumed operations after the Lunar New Year break, but production and research have been affected. More than 40 missions are scheduled for 2020, but some may be delayed as many employees have not been able to return to work and some suppliers have reduced their production rates.

Wired watchtower

US Attorney General William Barr has said that the US should be ‘actively considering investment in Nokia and Ericsson as a way to challenge Huawei’s 5G dominance. Barr said the US could even take a controlling stake in the companies to accelerate the development of their 5G technology. The proposal comes amid US difficulties in persuading allies, including the UK, to bar Huawei from their 5G networks over security concerns.

Kenya’s high court has suspended the country’s new national biometric identity program. Introduced last year, the program prompted concerns among civil rights groups about data privacy and the marginalisation of minorities, who face systemic challenges when trying to acquire the necessary documents to get a biometric ID card. The suspension will remain in place until the government establishes an ‘appropriate and comprehensive regulatory framework’ to allay such concerns.

Myanmar has reimposed an internet blackout in parts of Rakhine and Chin states, citing ‘security requirements and public interest’ as the reasons behind the shutdown. Local MPs have emphasised the difficulties created by the internet blackout, including the negative impact on businesses and the reduced ability to send aid to conflict-affected villages. Journalists have also experienced challenges in publishing news on the conflict.

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[1] announced: https://apnews.com/b910d5f4f2076d558416ae021b511517

[2] argued: https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/us-adds-low-yield-nuclear-weapon-to-its-submarine-arsenal/

[3] set: https://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php/news/defence-news/2020/february/8032-russia-to-deliver-two-project-11356-frigates-to-india-in-first-half-of-2024.html

[4] building up: https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/russia-to-deliver-2-guided-missile-frigates-to-india-by-2024/

[5] selected: https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/what-does-a-new-philippines-navy-chief-mean-for-the-countrys-security/

[6] interview: https://www.pna.gov.ph/articles/1092740

[7] confirmed: https://www.janes.com/article/94021/japanese-mod-confirms-plans-to-acquire-stand-off-missiles-amid-severe-security-environment

[8] enable: https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/japans-ministry-of-defense-confirms-plans-to-procure-new-stand-off-missiles/

[9] partner up: https://www.janes.com/article/94061/malaysia-to-convert-two-cn-235-transports-into-maritime-patrol-aircraft

[10] improved surveillance and mission systems: https://thediplomat.com/2020/02/us-malaysia-security-cooperation-in-the-headlines-with-aircraft-mission-systems-transfer/

[11] maritime security initiative: https://news.usni.org/2016/04/18/the-philippines-at-forefront-of-new-pentagon-maritime-security-initiative

[12] forced: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/europe/russia-says-israel-nearly-shot-down-passenger-plane-in-syria/2020/02/07/c9a33aa0-49c3-11ea-8a1f-de1597be6cbc_story.html

[13] killing: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/02/07/world/middleeast/syria-plane-israel.html

[14] confirmed: https://www.defenceconnect.com.au/land-amphibious/5544-army-confirms-spike-lr2-to-enhance-long-range-direct-fire-support-capability

[15] said: https://www.australiandefence.com.au/news/spike-lr2-chosen-for-long-range-direct-fire-support

[16] worried: https://www.c4isrnet.com/electronic-warfare/2020/02/07/what-dods-weapon-tester-said-about-army-electronic-warfare/

[17] report: https://www.dote.osd.mil/Portals/97/pub/reports/FY2019/army/2019ewpmt.pdf?ver=2020-01-30-115324-063

[18] aired: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/32098/ukrainian-troops-are-still-using-this-pre-world-war-i-era-maxim-machine-gun-in-combat

[19] geopolitical flashpoint: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/ukraine-conflict-crossroads-europe-and-russia

[20] Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/02/iran-shows-missile-launches-satellite-fails-reach-orbit-200209161038629.html

[21] tensions: https://time.com/5761897/us-iran-conflict-continues/

[22] international sanctions: https://www.cfr.org/backgrounder/international-sanctions-iran

[23] mission: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/02/sun-still-burning-mystery-may-be-about-to-change-solar-orbiter-launch/

[24] here: https://www.nasa.gov/solar-orbiter

[25] novel coronavirus: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/world/asia/coronavirus-china.html

[26] SpaceNews: https://spacenews.com/chinas-space-industry-faces-impacts-of-coronavirus-outbreak/

[27] More than 40 missions: https://spacenews.com/chinas-space-contractor-plans-more-than-40-launches-in-2020/

[28] be ‘actively considering: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-02-06/barr-rips-china-s-dominance-of-5g-technology-as-major-threat

[29] including the UK: https://news.sky.com/story/mike-pence-on-whether-uks-5g-decision-could-hurt-possible-trade-deal-11928833

[30] national biometric identity program: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/01/31/world/africa/kenya-biometric-ID-registry.html

[31] reimposed an internet blackout: https://www.reuters.com/article/us-myanmar-rakhine/myanmar-reimposes-internet-shutdown-in-conflict-torn-rakhine-chin-states-telco-operator-idUSKBN1ZZ0LC?feedType=RSS&feedName=worldNews